Britain’s controversial Investigative Power Bill receives its Royal Assent, November 29, with the formal consent of Queen Elizabeth II passing the bill into legislation and becoming an Act of Parliament, despite widespread opposition and clamoring calls for it to be repealed immediately, Sputnik has been told.
The so-called Snoopers’ Charter gives the security services and law enforcers in the UK — MI5, MI6, GCHQ, the police and some other statutory authorities — to demand that all communications companies track users’ telephone, web, social media, email and all other communications usage for one year.
It faced massive opposition because it gives the authorities — which include the tax agency HMRC, the Health, Transport, Work and Pensions Departments and the Gambling Commission — the right to collect bulk data on all internet communications use. It passed into law November 29, despite widespread opposition from civil liberties groups who said the draconian powers allowed for bulk collection of data on millions of innocent people and was not targeted at suspected criminals.
— Liberty (@libertyhq) November 28, 2016
“The passage of the Snoopers’ Charter through Parliament is a sad day for British liberty. Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the state has achieved totalitarian-style surveillance powers — the most intrusive system of any democracy in human history,” Bella Sankey, Policy Director for human rights group Liberty, told Sputnik.
“It has the ability to indiscriminately hack, intercept, record, and monitor the communications and internet use of the entire population. Liberty has fought tooth and nail against this terrifying legislation, but the paucity of political opposition has been devastating. The fight does not end here. Our message to Government: see you in Court,” she said.
— Open Rights Group (@OpenRightsGroup) November 27, 2016
An online official-petition to parliament to repeal the act has passed 130,000 signature, which means that the government is obliged to find time in the parliamentary calendar for the petition to be debated — although there is no obligation for any other course of action to be taken, which normally means parliament talks about it for a few hours before agreeing “this House has considered e-petition xxx”. The online petition says: “With this bill, they will be able to hack, read and store any information from any citizen’s computer or phone, without even the requirement of proof that the citizen is up to no good. This essentially entitles them to free reign of your files, whether you’re a law-abiding citizen or not! “This is sickening. It has only made it this far due to it being snuck past the population in relative secrecy. It isn’t too late. We can fix this before the UK is turned into a dystopian surveillance state.” Liberty is advising people to download the Tor browser, which does not allow the authorities to record which websites are visited and to use the Signal Private Messenger app to encrypt messages.