Open Rights Group head says public has a right to know about government surveillance plans
A draft technical document has been leaked allegedly outlining the UK government’s plans for the “live” internet surveillance of British web users under the Investigatory Powers (IP) Act.
Under the proposed rules, the IP Act – also known as the Snooper’s Charter – would allow the government to use data from internet providers to monitor members of the public in real time, as well as allowing the removal of content encryption.
Civil liberties organisation The Open Rights Group leaked the draft regulations, which outline a far-reaching government plan for web surveillance.
The document states that telecommunications operators will be obligated to provide data on users “within one working day”, relating to “up to 1 in 10,000 of the persons to whom the telecommunications operator provides the telecommunications service.”
Operators will also have to develop and maintain the systems used to hand over this information and to “remove any electronic protection applied by or on behalf of the telecommunications operator to the data.”
This essentially means technology companies such as WhatApp will be forced to remove encryption from communications, or provide a backdoor through which the government can access the data.
This has quickly become an extremely controversial topic within the tech world. Companies have argued that it would make services more vulnerable to hackers and, of course, impact the privacy of their users.
The issue reared its head recently in the wake of the terror attack in Westminster. Home secretary Amber Rudd slammed WhatsApp for its “completely unacceptable” use of encryption which quickly sparked a debate around terrorism and today’s pivacy conundrum.
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, defended the decision to leak the document saying: “The public has a right to know about government powers that could put their privacy and security at risk.”
The group was also involved in sending an open letter to Rudd in March, in which it criticised the Home Office for a “flimsy” consultation process regarding the IP Act.
Can you protect your privacy online? Take our quiz!