Trump’s U.S. election victory and the continuing Brexit clusterfuck is undoubtedly a good time to bury bad news. But it’s also proving to be the perfect time to bury our privacy.
This week the UK parliament, with barely a whimper, passed the Investigatory Powers Bill. This means it is now a formality that the so-called ‘Snooper’s Charter’ will become law by the end of the year. In other words, mass surveillance is now the UK’s legal modus operandi.
As my colleague over at TechCrunch Natasha Lomas writes
The legislation creates a legal framework authorizing state actors to hack into devices, networks and services, including in bulk; maintain large databases of personal information on U.K. citizens, including individuals suspected of no crime; and force companies to decrypt data on request — effectively placing limits on the use of end-to-end encryption.
It also requires communications service providers to maintain an ongoing log of all digital services their users connect to for a full year — accessible not only to spy and law enforcement agencies, but a wide range of government agencies too. No warrant is needed for access.
That last bit caught even me by surprise: Internet (and other digital communications) history will soon be legally accessible by not only law enforcement, such as the police or Security Service, but also other
government agencies including the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Food Standards Agency (FSA), and Department for Transport!
The passing of the Bill not only reflects poorly on the official opposition Labour party, which, as is too common these days, provided almost no effective opposition, but also finds the UK’s free press (ha!) asleep at the wheel.
The ease at which the Investigatory Powers Bill was passed should be cause for national scandal but instead is already in danger of being assigned to a footnote in Britain’s increasingly dystopian future.