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Thursday, 5 November 2015

What to expect from Theresa May’s new Surveillance Bill AKA Spy Bill

Image credit: Tech Week Europe
Yesterday Home Secretary Theresa May revealed her plans to fight crime and terror through a new surveillance law. The law will track the internet activity of everyone in the UK and all data will be stored for at least a year by service providers. This will allow the police and intelligence officers to check what sites people have visited anytime and without a warrant.

This bill will bring Britain in to the “digital age” according to May, as it will make “provision for the retention of internet connection records (ICRs) in order for law enforcement to identify the communications service to which a device has connected. This will restore capabilities that have been lost as a result of changes in the way people communicate.”

May hopes to bring together all the powers already available to law enforcements and intelligence agencies to obtain communications. This will also allow the state to hack devices and run operations to sweep up large amounts of data through the internet. This is the exact activity that was uncovered by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

So other than keeping a log of everyones browser activities, what else can we expect from the controversial Spy Bill:

  • A panel of judges will have the power to block spying operations
  • It will be a criminal offence to “knowingly or recklessly obtaining communications data from a telecommunications operator without lawful authority”
  • Local councils will retain some investigatory powers
  • The Wilson doctrine - preventing surveillance of Parliamentarians' communications - to be written into law
  • Journalistic sources can’t be accessed without authorisation of a judge
  • UK companies will be expected to help agencies hack devices and acquire information

Some have hailed the bill as a necessity to protect against crime, but others have warned about the unforgivable intrusion on the UK citizens personal information. Where do you stand?

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