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Investigatory Powers Bill To Give Immense Spying Power To The British Government

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Sunday, April 10th, 2016


The British authorities have proposed a new surveillance system, nicknamed Investigatory Powers Bill, which would give unprecedented spying powers to the government. While the proposed system has not been approved by the Parliament yet, critics of the draft version of the document have already labeled it as Snoopers Charter, the draconian surveillance system that failed to get enough support, in another form. As a matter of fact, the provisions contained in the new surveillance system are so dangerous that it has been called as “the activity log of your life” by none other than Edward Snowden. Let us check out the proposals outlined in Investigatory Powers Bill and see why the proposed system is so dangerous:

1) Metadata – Investigatory Powers Bill mandates ISPs and telecom companies to store metadata records of all the citizens for a minimum period of twelve months. Not only that, the system would provide unprecedented access to the stored metadata to the security agencies. What this really means is that the details of every website you visited in the last one year and every app you installed on your mobile device would be freely available to agencies like GCHQ without any oversight.

2) Judicial oversight – Considering the hue and cry raised by the lack of judicial oversight in the Snoopers Charter, the Investigatory Powers Bill proposes a new “double lock” system where the search warrants would need to be approved by a judge as well as the Secretary of the State in order to access actual content of the stored communications. However, considering that the bill also says that the judicial oversight can be bypassed in urgent cases and would only require the approval of the Secretary of the State and subsequent confirmation by a judge makes the entire “double lock” system pointless.

3) State Sponsored Hacking – The British authorities ruffled a lot of feathers in February by admitting that the security agencies were using many hacking techniques in order to get information. The Investigatory Powers Bill goes a step further and seeks to legalize hacking by allowing police departments to hack into our networks and devices. What’s worse, the proposed system would not be limited to computers or mobile devices, it will also permit hacking through internet connected devices such as Smart TVs, connected cars, home appliances and so on.

4) Surveillance – The bill also seeks to legalize unprecedented levels of mass surveillance. If approved, the bill would not only allow the authorities to monitor the activities of criminals but also of innocent citizens who have done nothing wrong. The bill mandates interception, acquisition and retention of data of a large number of law-abiding British citizens which alone should be enough to cause an uproar.

The proposed Investigatory Powers Bill is indeed a dangerous document that would give limitless surveillance powers to the British government. While the British authorities hope to get the bill approved in the wake of Paris terror attacks, opposition parties and privacy activists have already signaled their opposition to the proposed system.


April 10, 2016
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