Just when you thought the UK could not get any worse about spying on their citizens, they decide to go further. In what is considered to be an update to the “Snooper’s Charter”, the UK home secretary, Theresa May, revealed a new scheme to spy on internet use. Experts say that part of this new plan goes above and beyond the powers of the US’s National Security Agency.
Of course, the British government says this move will grant them tools to better protect the security of their citizens. Any time a government says things like that, you know it can’t be good for the public. They plan to watch connection logs and communication logs, though they say it is not every page people go to, but the site they go to. In addition, the providers must keep web browsing data for a year.
May also stated they would not create a new ban on encryption, but they still reserve the right “to maintain permanent interception capabilities, including maintaining the ability to remove any encryption applied by the CSP”. The new plan also requires service providers to intercept data and participate in getting rid of end to end encryption.
In addition to carrying out bulk collection of data, the British security services are given specific permission to use “equipment interference” as a tactic. In other words, they can hack your phone or computer whenever they want to. It also means those providers may be compelled to either provide an update to compromise security or not patch a security flaw so it may be explored by the British government.
Interestingly, the security services are defending this new bill. They state that companies like Google and Facebook have more information with less oversight. That may be true, but the whole “everyone else is doing it” scenario just does not sit very well with us. Just because others are doing it doesn’t mean it is acceptable to do.
If this law passes without any amendments, it will be a major detriment to civil liberties. At that point, the UK government might as well stop pretending to care about it’s citizens and just introduce a full police state. That may sound a bit extreme, but it would be intellectually more honest than the insincerity they are hearing now. At least the public would know beyond a shadow of a doubt what was going on.
In August, the UN privacy chief, Joseph Cannataci, said that the state of the UK was currently worse than the world imagined by George Orwell in the famous book, Nineteen Eighty-Four. We will wait to hear what his opinion of this new bill will be. If you want to secure your privacy, you could do so with a VPN.