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UK Investigatory Powers Bill: Web Foundation reaction

Web Foundation · November 4, 2015

Today, the UK Government has unveiled the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. Here is our reaction:

Anne Jellema, CEO of the Web Foundation said:

“The UK government had promised to deliver a Bill that was clear, comprehensible, and included ‘world leading’” oversight arrangements. The draft released today fails on all three counts. Of greatest concern to us is the fact that the Bill seeks to introduce mass surveillance of every Briton’s ‘Internet connection records’ without warrants, something which should be unthinkable in a modern democracy.” 

“The introduction of a requirement for ISPs to store all ‘Internet connection records’ of every UK citizen is deeply misguided and is neither necessary nor proportionate. It will hurt UK businesses, create new vulnerabilities for criminals to attack, and ride roughshod over the right to privacy. By retaining the top-level internet address of every website visited by every UK resident – accessible without a warrant – it will be possible to paint an incredibly detailed picture of a person’s hopes, fears and activities, and will create a data pool rife for theft, misuse or political persecution. It goes against international norms and also risks creating a race to the bottom globally as repressive regimes seek to copy Britain’s example.

We applaud the intention for a minister and a judge to sign off each interception warrant. However, the bill introduces a huge loophole by allowing “urgent” applications to be authorised by the minister only in the first instance, without defining what “urgent” means or the circumstances in which it can be invoked.

“In addition, the language on encryption is spectacularly unclear, and only exacerbates the confusion created by contradictory government briefings on this issue over the past few days.”

“Much now depends on the parliamentary joint committee tasked with reviewing this legislation. MPs should refuse to allow mass snooping by default, insist on strong oversight, defend the strong encryption needed to keep us all safe online, and demand the world-class legislation that the British public deserves.”



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