Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Snooper's Charter: What you need to know about the Investigatory Powers Bill

Scott Carey | June 8, 2016
What you need to know about the Investigatory Powers Bill, how it may affect your communications and the response so far.

The joint committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill was sent 148 sets of evidence raising concerns and views about aspects of the legislation, and May faced questions over these concerns in front of the committee in December.

The politics

There was generally cross-party approval of the bill as first proposed, with Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham stating that it was "neither a snooper's charter nor a plan for mass surveillance."

Conservative MP David Davis has been one of the more outspoken critics of the proposed legislation. Talking to The Guardian he said: "In every other country in the world, post-Snowden, people are holding their government's feet to the fire on these issues, but in Britain we idly let this happen [...] Because for the past 200 years we haven't had a Stasi or a Gestapo, we are intellectually lazy about it, so it's an uphill battle."

Author and journalist Heather Brooke went one step further. Writing for The Guardian she said: "The spies have gone further than [George Orwell] could have imagined, creating in secret and without democratic authorisation the ultimate panopticon. Now they hope the British public will make it legitimate."

Edward Snowden tweeted: "By my read, #SnoopersCharter [The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill] legitimises mass surveillance. It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West."

Apple submitted a formal submission to the bill committee, specifically around the issue of encryption, on Monday 21 December, expressing: "We believe it would be wrong to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat. In this rapidly evolving cyber-threat environment, companies should remain free to implement strong encryption to protect customers," as per The Guardian.

According to YouGov the UK public generally approve of surveillance, with 44 percent of respondents stating it wouldn't bother them to know that they could be spied upon and they don't think they are at this time.

Obligations on communications service providers

The use of investigatory powers relies heavily on the cooperation of so-called 'communications service providers' (CSPs) in the UK and overseas. The draft bill clearly outlined a legal duty on British companies to assist in hacking devices (equipment interference warrants).

On the issue of data retention May told the joint committee in January that: "There have been discussions with providers. CSPs have shown me responsiveness on that matter." However, she avoided giving any detail on how this would work in practice and how much it might cost, saying: "There are no exact figures, I'm happy to provide written evidence of Home Office work in this area."


Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.