The New Powers
The purpose of this piece of legislation is to enable the government to force private companies (Talk Talk, BT, EE, Virgin Media etc.) to collate your personal data for the benefit of the state, the police, GCHQ, M16, M15 to name but a few.
The relevant Agencies believe it is essential that they have access to our data in the interests of national security.
The Agencies say that they need these powers to fight ‘terrorism’ and ‘paedophiles’. Anyone with basic common sense will know that these individuals, if technically savvy will use the ‘Dark net’ or any other encrypted underworld they can find.
The Paris terrorists did not use any encrypted equipment to my knowledge at all. Not even an encrypted telephone. That is the reason why they were caught.
The Bill enables the government to:-
1. intercepting your communication; and
2. acquisition and retention of your communication data; to include bulk collection of personal data; and
3. Equipment interference.
Equipment inference against computer networks occurs already within the UK and overseas and is authorised by warrant under the Intelligence and Services Act 1994. The new bill creates an explicit regime which includes targeted equipment interference with the use of warrants.
What will be collected is your communication data: for example: records of your phone calls, what website your visit or your email. The content of that communication will also be collected. A lot of communication collected will be from your use of the internet; accordingly it is referred to in the bill as your ‘Internet Connection Record’.
The private companies mentioned above will have to collect your data and retain it for a year. Just imagine ‘Talk Talk’ with your data and it has a security breach!!!
The police can already ask these organisations to collate this data; however it is only for a short period of time and it is not historic information retained for a year.
This legislation is being heralded as modernising the surveillance powers; however take a closer look at what the current government is doing. The government has not said that they are repealing their current powers. Instead this awful piece of legislation is simply an erosion of your privacy and an extension of the state’s powers.
Edward Snowden was scathing “the bill is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West”. Civil liberty groups have said “it is breath taking” and an “attempt to grab even more intrusive surveillance powers”.
Governments all over the world will be looking at this bill very closely and may wish to introduce something similar in their own countries.
The government is trying to appease the public by saying that the legislation will create a new commissioner to oversee the use of the surveillance powers. They argue that the public will be protected by the ‘double lock system’ of MP’s and Judges scrutinising the government.
The Judges have to approve the warrant issued under this piece of legislation by an MP. The Judge has to scrutinize the warrant in exactly the same way he would if it were an application for judicial review; however they will only have to approve the process. Judges will not be able to look at the evidence in order to make a determination as to whether or not the surveillance was justified. Thus the Judges in my opinion are not really serving any useful functional purpose. It is hard to see how simply approving a process is protecting the public from unlawful surveillance.
The new legislation will be giving the government legal powers to hack. They hack already.
What happens to encryption?
It will still exist, but the government does expect companies such as Apple to use encryption methods that they will be able to unscramble on demand. Naturally creating security vulnerabilities for your data. Apple as you already know will not cooperate with governments on this point. It weakens their product to do so.
The Intelligence and Security Committee comments on the draft bill!
1. The legislation improves the issue of transparency. However it does not cover all the Agencies intrusive capabilities.
2. The Agencies powers and authorisation remains scattered through different pieces of legislation. The draft bill is therefore handicapped from the outset in terms of providing a clear and comprehensive legal framework.
3. The privacy protection in the Bill is inconsistent and needs strengthening. Privacy should form the backbone of the draft legislation around which exceptions are built.
4. Where protection is provided for sensitive professions (as the government through this piece of legislation is trying to water down legal professional privilege); these safeguards must be applied consistently; no matter which investigatory power is used to obtain the information. The new legislation must be amended to rectify this inconsistency.
5. Provisions relating to the key Agencies capabilities ‘Equipment Interference’, ‘Bulk Personal Dataset’s and ‘Communications Data’ are too broad and lack sufficient clarity. My interpretation of this comment ‘a free for all’.
6. The acquisition, retention and examination of Bulk Personal Dataset is sufficiently intrusive that it should require a specific warrant. We therefore recommend that Class Bulk Personal Dataset warrants ae removed from the new legislation.
7. Time limits should be placed on how long Bulk Personal Dataset can be held without authorisation.
8. Internet Connection Records are not the only way in which the Agencies collate data and in the interests of transparency, the Agencies must be specific regarding their capabilities.
The committee had a lot more to say, but I have limited time. A link to their report is provided below.
The real issue is whether or not you will trust the government with your personal data and/ or the telecommunication companies and ISP providers who will have to keep it for a year.
Worried about your data or privacy, we are here to help. Why not contact us today.
Link to articles
Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Report on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill
Investigatory Bill explanatory notes
Telegraph article - The online surveillance debates is really about whether you trust governments or not
Guardian article – EU Judges could limit UK surveillance powers before referendum
BBC UK Surveillance powers explained
This article is not intended to constitute legal advice, if assistance and advice on the legal topic covered is required, please do not hesitate to contact Johanna Cargill. Email: email@example.com or Website: Andrews&Monroe © Johanna Cargill REFS/AMO2