Conservatives To Revive Snoopers’ Charter Following Election Win

The Conservatives will attempt to push through the Draft Communications Bill, also known as the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’, now that it has secured a majority in the House of Commons and no longer has to rely on the support of the Liberal Democrats, reports have claimed.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg had opposed the introduction of the bill, which requires telcos and ISPs to store data about their customers and provide access to a number of government and security agencies on the basis it would invade citizen’s privacy.

The party said the bill would “undermine the freedom of expression that all British citizens enjoy” and would dramatically shift the relationship between the state and the individual. The Lib Dem manifesto made provisions for a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ to safeguard privacy and explicitly stated its opposition to the Snoopers’ Charter.

Snoopers’ Charter

However according to The Independent, Home Secretary Theresa May says the controversial Snoopers’ Charter is firmly back on the agenda. The Tory manifesto promising to provide intelligence agencies with  access to communications metadata and the tools the needed to foil terrorist plots – many of which it claimed were becoming more difficult to detect because of technology.

Following the attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, Prime Minister David Cameron called for powers to allow spies to access the content of encrypted communications and suggested such legislation would be introduced if the Conservatives secured a majority in the election.

In any case, new legislation will be needed at some point as the emergency Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) bill, which requires telcos to store and provide access to communications records for 12 months, is due to expire in December 2016.

Both the French and Australian governments have made moves to increase state surveillance and facilitate the collection of communications metadata in recent months, although the US Court of Appeals has ruled the NSA’s mass collection of phone records is illegal.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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