This post was originally published on November 6, 2015.
Government officials are working to pass the biggest bulk collection legislature the UK has ever seen. The Investigatory Powers Bill is a disaster in the making, and it’s about to sweep through Parliament.
This new bill aims to reshape how government surveillance is conducted—and not for the better.
Surveillance on a Massive Scale
Under the bill, government security services will have the power to hack into people’s smartphones and computers in the interest of security. It’s called “equipment interference,” and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The nearly 300-page bill aims to tighten national security by making mass surveillance mandatory. Broadband and mobile phone providers will be forced to keep logs of customers’ data for up to one year. These logs will include every site you visit, the times you visited them, and the devices you use.
Similar mass surveillance legislature has been banned in the rest of Europe and North America for being too invasive.
(Almost) Too Bad to Be True
Records of your Internet activity will only include basic URLs and not individual pages. For example, they could see you had visited BBC.com on a Saturday afternoon but not the individual pages you were reading. This provides little comfort, as the time of visits and IP addresses of other computers you contacted will be recorded in sickening detail.
In order to access your personal data, officials require “double-lock” authorization. Phone calls, emails, and text messages need authorization from the home secretary and then a specially appointed judge before local law enforcement can have access. However, there is a small clause to bypass this approval process if law enforcement officials feel there is an urgent need to access the information.
Basically, security officials can only access your information after they receive judicial approval, unless they feel it’s “urgent.” In that case, they’re free to do whatever they want.
Not Just ‘Metadata’
This isn’t just metadata the government is hoping to collect, it’s your life. It’s everything you do, every site you visit, and every message you send via the Internet.
Proponents of the bill argue that the data the government is collecting is a means for national security and in no way affects you. But how can it not, when everything you do is being logged?
The Most Intrusive Mass Surveillance Bill the UK Has Ever Seen
The bill was brought forth by Home Secretary Theresa May in an effort to replace the UK’s outdated data collection laws.
May had introduced similar legislation, known as the Snooper’s Charter, back in 2012 to almost unanimous disapproval. She believes this new bill succeeds where the other failed. According to May:
“The publication of our draft Investigatory Powers Bill is a decisive moment. This Bill will establish world-leading oversight to govern an investigatory powers regime which is more open and transparent than anywhere else in the world.”
Privacy advocates, including Edward Snowden, are calling this the worst surveillance bill the West has ever seen, and for good reason: Never before have such stringent surveillance measures been introduced.
By my read, #SnoopersCharter legitimizes mass surveillance. It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 4, 2015
Don’t Let the British Government Continue to Spy on You!
The bill is expected to go through Parliament sometime next year. Whether or not it will pass is unknown, but if the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership leaks tell us anything, it’s that world powers are doing very little to protect people’s privacy.
Instead of leaving yourself at the whim of mass surveillance, take back your privacy with a VPN.
How VPNs Work
A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your computer and the websites you visit. Your ISPs won’t be able to see what sites you visit, the data you send, or the people you communicate with.
A VPN also hides your IP address and location, so your online activity cannot be traced back to you and your computer or device.
Don’t wait for this crippling mass surveillance bill to go into effect. Take back your privacy and hide your IP address with a VPN.
Featured image: Jetpics / Dollar Photo Club
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Forgive my ignorance – does this mean we are safe from this disgusting government surveillance if we have VPN which I do have?
It’s probably impossible to hide entirely from government surveillance, but a VPN can prevent your internet service provider from knowing what sites you visit, which would help keep your online activity private to a degree.
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Hi John, our Support team at https://www.expressvpn.com/support/ will be happy to help you.
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Hi Geoffrey, please contact Support and they will help you.
These logs will include every site you visit, the times you visited them, and the devices you use.
What I don’t understand about this is that if VPNs are so secure surely all of the ‘secret’, ‘terrorist’ organisations will know this and use a VPN. Therefore, if what you say is correct, they can never be ‘caught’ in this way. I don’t doubt you I just can’t understand how any government can snoop on anybody whom they may feel they need to, because those organisations would certainly know about VPNs.
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If I understand correctly, even if the government got a phone tap or the equivalent, so long as VPn on they can not intercept, please comment and reply to my email
I can no longer get BBC iplayer in Portugal on Expressvpn when in Portugal, is there a way around this?
Hi Teresa, please contact ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live support.
I have been using VPN traverling around the world on business for nearly one year i would not be without it, i spend a lot of time in China, Asia and USA if any one could block my usage it would be China, or US it is working great I would like to thank VPN for there great service and thank God thay are here and hope they stay doing a great job.
When I use your VPN UK Berkshire site from Australia I am unable to view BBC video’s because I use a VPN how do I overcome this, will all sites do the same
Hi Ray, let’s get that fixed. We can help you instantly via Live Chat here https://blog.expressvpn.com/support/#open-chat
Do VPN services really provide that level of security? There are so many controversial opinions.
Hi Aaron. We’ve been in business since 2009 and have many thousands of users. If we were a company that wasn’t conscious of users’ privacy, we wouldn’t be such a popular VPN provider.
The new bill will apply just as much to VPN’s as ISP’s the bill uses the term telecommunications operator, shame on you giving out misleading information by implying buying your product will make your online life private.
Thanks for voicing your concern on our blog.
ExpressVPN does not log our users’ data and we plan to keep things that way. We stand with other companies like Apple and concerned citizens who have come out to publicly oppose measures that will infringe on individuals’ rights to private and secure communication.
Express VPN operates out of the British Virgin Islands making the organisation exempt from data retention laws, as well as Australian, US and UK law.
Surely when this bill passes the law will require VPN providers to keep the same details the ISP’s have to keep i.e. websites visited, times, ‘everything you do’
Thank you for your note.
ExpressVPN does not log our users’ data. We plan to keep things that way. We stand with other companies like Apple and concerned citizens who have publicly opposed measures that infringe on individuals’ rights to private and secure communication.