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
7 Signs of Tyranny
2 min · 13,937 views today · Consider yourself warned.
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 12,351 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
How Independent is Hollywood?
4 min · 5,013 views today · A huge number of big-budget Hollywood films, especially those featuring war, conflict or terrorism, are influenced by Hollywood's close relationship with the United States...
4.1 Miles
21 min · 4,670 views today · Kyriakos Papadopoulos is a 41-year old local captain of the Greek Coast Guard. He has two wonderful young daughters Vivi and Melissa, and before the refugee crisis exploded in...
The Trump Report - The Real Fake News About The Dakota Access Pipeline
2 min · 3,067 views today · President Trump is sick of the lying fake news media, so he's doing the news himself. Today on The Trump Report: Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline (great...
Why Would Any of Us Want to Live like a Savage?
Juan Pablo Quinonez · 2,522 views today · Let’s not be romantic. Industrial civilization is no utopia. For every creature comfort we have, something or someone pays the price. The wilderness is no fairy tale either...
What It Takes to Change Hearts and Minds
Colin Beavan · 2,079 views today · To get someone’s support, you need more than just facts.
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,572 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
How Comedy Can Disarm Bullies
3 min · 1,455 views today · As long as you're funny, it can get you out of almost anything - even getting mugged, as co-founder of Between Two Ferns Scott Aukerman recounts. Unfortunately, not everyone...
The Choice Between Fear And Love
5 min · 1,301 views today · Each of us has a choice to make each and every moment: a choice between love and fear. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, Jim Carrey, and the...
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 1,181 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 1,062 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 902 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 739 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...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 644 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Immigrants For Sale (2015)
33 min · 607 views today · The detention of migrants has become a multi-billion dollar industry in which immigrants are sold to the highest bidder and traded like mere products. The Corrections...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 583 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 547 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 454 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 433 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
UK Set to Approve Most Extreme Spy Bill in 'History of Western Democracy'