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.