In light of the recent terrorist attack in Tunisia, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister is calling for more access to social network communications. Mr Cameron feels that the UK government should have access to online communications just as they do for phones and mobile phone transmission. The question is whether or not the Labour Party will support the resurrected Snoopers Charter. This time around they are calling the legislation the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill.
In a recent interview David Cameron stated “Britain is not a state that is trying to search through everybody’s emails and invade their privacy,” and “We just want to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate. That is the challenge, and it is a challenge that will come in front of the House.” Mr Cameron went on to say that the UK government has always had the power to sign a warrant and intercept phone calls and cell communications. He sees social media sites and new technology as a means to hide terrorist communications.
The Draft Communications Data Bill, aptly nicknamed the Snoopers Charter, was introduced by the UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May. The bill was expected to be introduced in the 2012-2013 legislative session and enacted by 2014. That’s before the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, withdrew support for the Snooper’s Charter in April of 2013. The bill has since been blocked but with the Conservative party now in power the bill is being revived and is expected to be presented in the Autumn.
When the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill hits the legislature this Autumn there is bound to be a fight. The lawmakers will be choosing between security and privacy. No one wants terrorists killing innocent people, whether in the United Kingdom or abroad. That doesn’t mean UK citizens want to give up even more of their personal privacy in order to feel more secure. The Labour Party is already being pressured to withdraw support for the bill. Internet users worldwide are becoming more aware of the ever growing surveillance state we all live in.
We’ve watched as governments around the world censor the Internet and continue to pass surveillance and data retention laws. The latest attempt from David Cameron and his political allies could further the surveillance state in the UK. They want to have internet service providers and mobile phone companies snoop on their users. The Snoopers Charter would have forced them to keep logs of users internet activities including social networking sites, email, phone calls, online gaming, and message services for 12 months. The Data Retention Regulations 2014 already force them to retain email and telephone contact data.
What will the new Draft Investigatory Powers Bill mean to citizens in the UK? For starters the government wants to have access to everyone’s communication data. A better way of phrasing would be that the UK wants to keep metadata related to users internet and mobile activities. They want to track the source, destination, date, time, duration, and type of communications taking place. Mr Cameron made it clear before the election that he wanted to block encrypted messaging apps unless the government has backdoor access. In response Ind.ie, a UK company that has developed a private messaging app, says they will move out of the UK rather than be forced to place a backdoor in their products.
The next Internet privacy battle in the UK is well underway with Unite, the Labour party’s largest backers, pressuring them to oppose the new Draft Investigatory Powers Bill. The political waters are sure to continue to heat up before the bill is introduced later this year. We will continue to keep you informed as more information becomes available. In the meantime you can follow us @VPNFan for the latest news related to your online privacy.