British Government is enacting a law which requires internet providers to keep information of website visitations and surfings for at a year.
Details of UK website visits ‘to be stored for year’
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From the section UK Politics 912 comments
Media caption Home Secretary Theresa May: ”The threat is clear”
The internet activity of everyone in Britain will have to be stored for a year by service providers, under new surveillance law plans.
Police and intelligence officers will be able to see the names of sites people have visited without a warrant, Home Secretary Theresa May said.
But there would be new safeguards over MI5, MI6 and the police spying on the full content of people’s web use.
Mrs May told MPs the proposed powers were needed to fight crime and terror.
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The wide-ranging draft Investigatory Powers Bill also contains proposals covering how the state can hack devices and run operations to sweep up large amounts of data as it flows through the internet, enshrining in law the previously covert activities of GCHQ, as uncovered by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The draft bill’s measures include:
Giving a panel of judges the power to block spying operations authorised by the home secretary
A new criminal offence of “knowingly or recklessly obtaining communications data from a telecommunications operator without lawful authority”, carrying a prison sentence of up to two years
Local councils to retain some investigatory powers, such as surveillance of benefit cheats, but they will not be able to access online data stored by internet firms
The Wilson doctrine – preventing surveillance of Parliamentarians’ communications – to be written into law
Police will not be able to access journalistic sources without the authorisation of a judge
A legal duty on British companies to help law enforcement agencies hack devices to acquire information if it is reasonably practical to do so
Former Appeal Court judge Sir Stanley Burnton is appointed as the new interception of communications commissioner
Mrs May told MPs the draft bill was a “significant departure” from previous plans, dubbed the “snooper’s charter” by critics, which were blocked by the Lib Dems, and will “provide some of the strongest protections and safeguards anywhere in the democratic world and an approach that sets new standards for openness, transparency and oversight”.
But Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights campaign Liberty, said: “After all the talk of climbdowns and safeguards, this long-awaited Bill constitutes a breath-taking attack on the internet security of every man, woman and child in our country.
“We must now look to Parliament to step in where ministers have failed and strike a better balance between privacy and surveillance.”
And Mr Snowden warned the communications data covered by the proposed legislation was “the activity log of your life”.
In a message on Twitter he said: “‘It’s only communications data’ = ‘It’s only a comprehensive record of your private activities’.”
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Media captionAndy Burnham: ”We support the government in its attempt to update the law in this important and sensitive area”
The proposed legislation, which will have to pass votes in both houses of Parliament, would order communications companies, such as broadband firms, to hold basic details of the services that someone has accessed online – something that has been repeatedly proposed but never enacted.
This duty would include forcing firms to hold a schedule of which websites someone visits and the apps they connect to through computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices.
Police and other agencies would be then able to access these records in pursuit of criminals – but also seek to retrieve data in a wider range of inquiries, such as missing people.
Mrs May stressed that the authorities would not be able to access everyone’s browsing history, just basic data, which was the “modern equivalent of an itemised phone bill”.
But investigating officers will not have to obtain a warrant, just get their request signed off by a senior officer, just as they do now – some 517,000 such requests were granted last year.
If officers want to mount more intrusive spying operations, including accessing the content of emails, hacking into computers and tapping phones, they will still need a warrant from the home secretary or another senior minister – 2,700 such warrants were signed last year.
But the draft bill proposes giving a new panel of judges, known as the Investigatory Powers Commission, the ability to veto such requests.
Background briefings on the plans
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The Commons reacts to spying bill
When police or security agencies apply to intercept someone’s communications, their plans would have to be first signed off by the home secretary but then approved by one of these judges.
In urgent situations, such as when someone’s life is in danger or there is a unique opportunity to gather critical intelligence, the home secretary would have the power to approve an interception warrant without immediate judicial approval.
The judges would also be able to refer serious errors to an outside tribunal which could then decide to tell the individual their data has been illegally collected.
The bill does not propose forcing overseas companies to comply with these orders.
The bulk collection of internet messages flowing through the UK by GCHQ, as revealed by Edward Snowden, is currently in a legal grey area, covered by legislation originally meant for other purposes.
The security services argue they need access to large amounts of data to help them monitor suspected foreign terrorists or criminals deemed to pose a threat to the UK.
The new bill would aim to put bulk collection on a firm legal footing, with the home secretary given the power to issue warrants, as set out in the graph below.
Graphic showing the process for securing authorisation to collect bulk data under the new draft bill – 4 November 2015
The estimated cost to taxpayers of implementing the Bill is about £247m over the next 10 years, including storage of internet connection records and the new warrant approval regime.
The draft bill is a response in part to a review by the government’s terror watchdog, David Anderson QC, who said in June the UK needed a “comprehensive” new surveillance law to replace the current “fragmented” rules.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, Mr Anderson gave Mrs May’s proposals “four stars” but said it would be for Parliament to determine the extent of surveillance powers and safeguards.
He said: “This isn’t a licence for the police to simply prowl over everything you have been doing, but I quite accept that a lot of data is being kept by these service providers and under the government’s proposals it would be kept for a very long time.”
Person using computer keyboardImage copyrightPA
This creates “obvious risks” he said, adding: “I simply wouldn’t vote for this unless I had been very substantially satisfied that those risks had been minimised.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Andy Burnham backed the draft bill, saying it was “neither a snooper’s charter nor a plan for mass surveillance”.
Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said it was a “much improved model” of the legislation he blocked during the coalition government but said the “devil would be in the detail”.
This is the added element into the British paranoia of terrorist attacks. For almost fifty years, Britons endured the threat of terrorist attacks which include bombing in public places which started by the Irish Republic Army. Now, its the Islamic State self proclaimed ‘Jihadists’.
United Kingdom is now a “Surveillance State”, where the nation boasts the highest number of surveillance cameras in the world at the ratio of there is one every eleven people.
One surveillance camera for every 11 people in Britain, says CCTV survey
Britain has a CCTV camera for every 11 people, a security industry report disclosed, as privacy campaigners criticised the growth of the “surveillance state”.
One surveillance camera for every 11 people in Britain, says CCTV survey
David Barrett By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent6:30PM BST 10 Jul 2013 Comments128 Comments
The British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) estimated there are up to 5.9 million closed-circuit television cameras in the country, including 750,000 in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and care homes.
The survey’s maximum estimate works out at one for every 11 people in the UK, although the BSIA said the most likely figure was 4.9 million cameras in total, or one for every 14 people.
Both projections were higher than previous estimates which ranged between 1.5 million and four million.
Simon Adcock, of the BSIA, said: “This study represents the most comprehensive and up to date study undertaken into the number of CCTV cameras in use in the UK.
“Because there is no single reliable source of data no number can ever be held as truly accurate however the middle of our range suggests that there are around five million cameras.”
He added: “Effective CCTV schemes are an invaluable source of crime detection and evidence for the police. For example, in 2009 95 per cent of Scotland Yard murder cases used CCTV footage as evidence.”
But Nick Pickles, director of the privacy campaign Big Brother Watch, said: “This report is another stark reminder of how out of control our surveillance culture has become.
“With potentially more than five million CCTV cameras across country, including more than 300,000 cameras in schools, we are being monitored in a way that few people would recognise as a part of a healthy democratic society.
“This report should be a wake up call that in modern Britain there are people in positions of responsibility who seem to think ‘1984’ was an instruction manual.”
The survey included all cameras in public and private areas, regardless of whether the images are recorded or watched “live”.
It estimated there are between 291,000 and 373,000 cameras in public sector schools, plus a further 30,000 to 50,000 in independent schools.
Surgeries and health centres have an estimated 80,000 to 159,000, while there are believed to be between 53,000 and 159,000 cameras in restaurants, the report said.
The ability to fulfil the objective of having access to anyone’s internet surfing history is practical if the website is not encrypted. Encryption is the key success factor to protect breach of information to unauthorised user and preserving secrecy and privacy.
Then again, the Home Ministry proposal to ban encrypted messages within UK communicators was attacked as “Economically irresponsible”.
Banning encryption would be economically irresponsible and ultimately futile
Forcing companies like WhatsApp and Snapchat to design security flaws in their software opens the door to everyone, not just benevolent spies
Home Secretary Theresa May is considering the idea of giving senior judges the right to sign off intercept warrants
By Adam Afriyie MP10:55AM GMT 03 Nov 2015Comments122 Comments
The Government’s first duty must always be defend and protect British citizens, so I am delighted that it has kept cybersecurity firmly at the top of the political agenda.
In the same way that poorly implemented “stop and search” often exacerbated problems in the past, I worry that we could go down the same route with encryption technology.
Encryption keeps our details safe from fraudsters when we bank or pay for goods online and when we send private or commercially sensitive messages. It ensures that our passwords can’t be stolen by hackers and that we can keep our information safely on our computers.
The Government is rightly concerned about the risks of digital encryption technology, in the same way that it was concerned about invisible ink, encoded letters and faxes in the past.
If there is substance to rumours of a crackdown on encryption in the publication of new Investigatory Powers legislation, it would be as mistaken as it would be ineffective.
“Banning technology does not get rid of it”
Banning technology does not get rid of it. It either makes criminals of millions of normal internet users, or designates it the reserve of established criminals like drug dealers and terrorists.
Once a technology exists, you can’t wish it away, even if you underpin your objections with legislation. In China, where the Government has gone to great lengths to ban Facebook, an estimated 64 million people have slipped through the net.
Trying to enforce the unenforceable is a waste of taxpayers’ money and an unnecessary distraction for law enforcement agencies.
Let’s also remember that encryption is hugely beneficial to online security. To take one example, digital currencies rely on encryption to transparently verify online transactions. A record of every single digital currency payment is kept online independently, meaning that it is completely transparent and verifiable. Encryption therefore makes these transactions easier – not harder – to track.
If a criminal wants to remain invisible, they will stay offline, where the Government can’t track their conversations, emails or money transfers. The security services must embrace and adapt to popular, market-driven and ubiquitous innovations rather than seeking to put a billion horses back in the stable.
Knowledge of encryption is widespread in the technical and academic world. The futility of fighting dispersed knowledge of this kind would make book-burning look like a successful strategy.
Making encryption illegal in the UK will also push technical experts, businesses and entrepreneurs from our shores. Our welcoming and dynamic ecosystem of fast-growing technology clusters is attracting ever more businesses to Britain. Mixed messages from the Government about encryption risks warning off investors and businesses looking for their next base.
Encryption is the basis of many innovative companies that want to build trust with customers by keeping users’ details secure. We should be helping, not punishing the most successful cyber-security companies. Britain must remain open to the jobs and investments these companies bring. So let’s not endanger a job-creating, wealth-creating industry with clumsy laws.
Forcing companies to design security flaws in their encryption software opens the door to everyone, not just benevolent Governments. It would be ludicrous to ask for a “back door” for the security services, without recognising that it would undermine the integrity of the whole system. The security that encryption technology brings helps us all to feel safe online. If you remove that security then the trust between consumers and providers breaks down. That’s bad for consumers and potentially fatal for businesses.
“It is futile to fight the mathematics of encryption”
It is futile to fight the mathematics of encryption. The Government is right to continue with its tried-and-tested policy of asking companies to retain records of when, with whom and for how long people communicate, subject to proper judicial oversight.
A simple update of the existing powers to cover new technologies is really all that’s required. Companies that design internet communication software will now want to comply, if only to emphasise the point that an outright ban is unnecessary. This consensual approach will undoubtedly be the ultimate outcome, as the Government has recognised that a heavy-handed approach to encryption technology won’t work.
Banning apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat won’t work
We will stand a better chance of defeating cyber-crime by directing our efforts precisely rather than punishing millions of users in one fell swoop. If we’re serious about the emergence of digital Britain, now is the time to prove it. This requires sensible measures, not a knee-jerk response that could undermine an industry with the potential to keep Britain at the forefront of the global race.
Let’s go after the criminals, not the technology.
Adam Afriyie is Conservative MP for Windsor, Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and a former IT entrepreneur
The debate now would be between the extreme advocates of privacy, access to free and uncensored information and personal rights and the paranoids of law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community.
Striking the balance between infringement on privacy and rights to have access to information and provide a blanket of security for the people against the enemies of state operating in the cybersphere as the main propaganda and recruitment enabler, is a very complex and abstract art of politics.
Considering Britain had a fair brutal and horrifying share of terrorist attacks in the past ten years, being paranoid is anytime much better than ‘getting wiser after the event’.
The organised 7 July 2005 London bus bombing near Tavistock Square and London Tube underground bombings at Edgware Rd station and King’s Cross-St Pancras station where 52 innocent people died and 700 others injured is forever resided as ghastly nightmare for Britons.
The back breaking challenge is to have the safeguard against the abuse of this law against ordinary people. In the information age where there are 1 billion smart phones and 1.5 billion Facebook accounts, it is very important that these tools are not misused for sinister purposes as well as preserving privacy and private information.
Philosophy fictional author prophecised this in his 1949 book ‘1984’.