UK Set to Approve Most Extreme Spy Bill in 'History of Western Democracy'
UK Set to Approve Most Extreme Spy Bill in 'History of Western Democracy'
The bill codifies the statutes revealed in 2013 by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Photo: Blogtrepreneur/flickr/cc)
By Nadia Prupis / commondreams.org
Nov 19, 2016

The U.K. surveillance bill known as the "Snooper's charter" is poised to become law after passing both houses of Parliament this week. It only needs to be approved by Royal Assent, which is expected to happen by the end of the year.

The Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill is, as transparency advocates describe it, the most extreme surveillance law ever passed by a democracy. Approved amid the chaos of the post-Brexit vote and President-elect Donald Trump's historic upset, the bill has implications that reach far beyond its borders.

Jamie Killock, executive director of the civil liberties organization Open Rights Group, said Thursday, "The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the U.K.'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."

Open Rights Group summarized the bill's most pertinent provisions:

  • Internet Service Providers could be obliged to store their customers' web browsing history for a year. The police and government departments will have unprecedented powers to access this data through a search engine that could be used for profiling.
  • The security services will continue to have powers to collect communications data in bulk.
  • The police and security services will have new hacking powers.
  • The security services can access and analyze public and private databases, even though the majority of data will be held about people who are not suspected of any crimes.

The bill codifies the statutes revealed in 2013 by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, "as well as increasing surveillance by the police and other government departments," Killock continued. "There will continue to be a lack of privacy protections for international data sharing arrangements with the U.S. Parliament has also failed to address the implications of the technical integration of GCHQ [the U.K.'s Government Communications Headquarters] and the NSA."

The United Nations privacy chief Joseph Cannataci previously called the bill "worse than scary," saying at an Internet Governance Forum panel in Brazil last week, "It is the golden age of surveillance, [governments have] never had so much data. I am just talking about metadata, I haven't got down to content."

"Mass surveillance is alive and well but governments are finding ways of making that the law of the land," Cannataci said. He also criticized the U.K. media and pro-surveillance members of parliament for what he called "an offensive" to distort the debate and push new powers into law.

"[D]o a media analysis of the way the British establishment is trotting out news about the law and the need for the law and ask yourselves the question 'If this is not orchestrated then what is?'" he said.

Matt Burgess, a Wired UK reporter who has done extensive coverage on the bill, wrote on Twitter that the snooper's charter has "been described as being worse than China's, yet is passed incredibly easily. 2016."

Snowden also wrote, "The U.K. has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes farther than many autocracies."

Killock noted in an op-ed for Newsweek last week that "[a]ll of these practices appear to have existed for many years, in secret and without a Parliamentary vote. Hidden creative interpretations of our existing laws allowed so-called 'bulk powers' to gather information about millions of people, secretly tap internal cables belonging to Google or Yahoo! and to hack foreign companies, such as Belgium's national telecoms provider, turning them into [GCHQ] surveillance conduits. The only reason we know, of course, is because of Edward Snowden's actions, revealing what the U.S.'s NSA and Britain's GCHQ were up to."

The bill was passed just a day before Trump selected the hawkish Tea Party Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo to head the CIA. Pompeo is a proponent of mass surveillance who has previously called for Snowden to receive the death penalty.

"You'd think the sheer revocation of democracy and failure of accountability would be enough to outrage British MPs," Killock wrote in Newsweek. "You'd think this shift from targeted phone taps focused on specific known criminals to one of blanket surveillance to start fishing for new suspects would deserve a principled national debate."

"Apparently not."


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 8,389 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 4,796 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 4,666 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 3,104 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 3,052 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 1,307 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
What Is My Activism Really About? to Love, Serve and Remember
Tim Hjersted · 983 views today · I have made a promise to this world that I will carry with me to my last days. It is my vow to lessen the suffering of the world while I am here - it is to ensure that every...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 891 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 671 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 656 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 598 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 567 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 547 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 406 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Greening of the Self: The Most Important Development of Modern Times
Joanna Macy · 370 views today · Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 335 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 326 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 284 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 265 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 254 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
UK Set to Approve Most Extreme Spy Bill in 'History of Western Democracy'