Governement-ITRegulationSurveillance-IT

Government ‘Needs To Explain Snooper’s Charter Effects’

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Majority of UK public is still unclear on what the IP Bill will involve, Open-Xchange survey finds

The Government has done such a poor job of explaining the possible effects of the forthcoming Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill that the vast majority of British people have little idea what it will actually achieve, new research has found.

Only 12 percent of British people say that they had a good understanding of what the so-called ‘Snooper’s Charter’ is going to involve, according to the 2016 Consumer Openness Index consumer survey by open source software provider Open-Xchange.

The Index found that only this proportion reported that the Home Secretary has “adequately explained the impact of the Investigatory Powers Bill to the UK public and presented a balanced argument for its introduction”.

Justified

theresa_mayWorryingly for the Government, Open-Xchange’s survey also found that only one in five people in the UK believes the introduction of the bill is justified, and only a quarter believe Theresa May (pictured left) has the right to pass legislation enabling the Government to access their mobile and Internet data.

Overall, 50 percent of the internet-using public in the UK believe that the government’s actions to weaken encryption are an infringement on UK citizens’ human rights, and 74 percent of Brits believe in the ‘fundamental right’ to privacy online.

It seems that the growing importance of legislation such as the IP Bill is also contributing to greater awareness of online security issues among the British public, as the survey found that nearly half (46 percent) said they now paid somewhat close attention or more to the debate over balancing government surveillance with data privacy.

This may be tied to the links between business and security, as only one in ten Brits disagreed that weakened encryption will make investment in the UK less attractive, and nearly half (46 percent) believe this perceived weakness will force growing British businesses to move abroad.

This desire to keep big business in the UK will come at a price, however, as nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the UK public believes the likes of Facebook and Google never have the right to use their public data.

“Governments and corporations are gathering unfathomable amounts of information about the online lives of every individual,” said Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange.

“As a result, it’s no surprise that across the world, people increasingly fear their personal data is exposed. Worse than that, recent studies have shown that people feel powerless to protect their data. But there is hope: there are signs that citizens believe that compromising their right to privacy can no longer be tolerated. They are asking for greater transparency in the services they use and the politicians they elect, and searching for solutions to protect themselves.”

To do

Online surveillance © - Fotolia.comLast month, the latest draft version of the IP Bill was slammed by senior MPs, who said that the legislation still needed “serious work” before it could possibly become law.

This criticism came just a week after the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee last week concluded that the draft bill was too vague in its provisions and would require detailed codes of practice in order to ensure it doesn’t prove a disastrous burden on the nation’s IT industry.

The government has previously said the bill is intended to consolidate and clarify investigatory powers, and that the only substantially new requirement it introduces is for internet service providers to store users’ browsing records, termed internet connection records (ICRs), for 12 months.

Earlier this month, TechWeekEurope found that many leading technology firms are also unhappy with the form that the IP Bill is currently taking, with many demanding that it be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.

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