Snooper’s Charter 2.0 Is Set To Become Law As Lords Pass Controversial IP Bill

The controversial Investigatory Powers bill (IPBill), which will grant police and government additional cyber surveillance powers, is set to become law after it was passed by the House of Lords.

The bill will require ISPs to store customer’s web browsing history for at least year and authorities will be able to access this through a customer search engine which some fear could be used for profiling.

Security services will also be able to bulk collect communications data and authorities will have new hacking powers.

IPBill is passed

The IPBill passed the House of Commons by a clear majority in June as MPs voted overwhelmingly by 444 to 69 in its favour. This mean the majority of the Labour party supported the government and the opposition failed to stand up to it in the Lords too.

Pro-privacy groups have campaigned against the legislation, dubbed Snooper’s Charter 2.0 in reference to the original attempt to pass the bill which was thwarted by the Conservative government’s former coalition partners the Liberal Democrats. The tech industry was also against the proposed regulations.

However in the immediate aftermath of the Conservative’s 2015 General Election victory, then Home Secretary Theresa May revealed plans for a revival. And now as Prime Minister, she appears to have finally got her way.

Opponents say the absence of any amendments means there is too much power in the hands of politicians and that citizens are not guaranteed to be told if they have been put under surveillance wrongly.

Assault on privacy?

Big Brother Watch said that the commitment to weaken encryption would ironically undermine the government’s own cybersecurity strategy and suggested the bill might eventually have to be reviewed.

“Supporters of the Bill claimed that it is needed to keep us, the country and the national infrastructure safe,” said the organisation. “By hoarding more of our information in vast databases and weakening encryption it risks doing the exact opposite.”

The Open Rights Group said it would continue to fight the bill’s introduction and also hinted there could be further road blocks.

“The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the UK’s shores,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. “The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the UK’s shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.

“The IP Bill will put into statute the powers and capabilities revealed by Snowden as well as increasing surveillance by the police and other government departments. There will continue to be a lack of privacy protections for international data sharing arrangements with the US.

“While parliamentarians have failed to limit these powers, the Courts may succeed. A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, expected next year, may mean that parts of the Bill are shown to be unlawful and need to be amended.

“ORG and others will continue to fight this draconian law.”

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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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