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Information commissioner attacks UK’s new Snooper’s Charter

Independent public data rights authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), has attacked plans by the government to push through the Investigatory Powers Bill, often called the Snooper’s Charter. It claims that there is little justification for some of the measures it wishes to push through and claims that it weakens personal privacy without cause.

The Investigatory Powers bill is something that Theresa May and other members of the Conservative government have been pushing to instil into law for years. It was previously blocked under a different guise by Nick Clegg, but it’s been revived and using the horrific Paris terrorist attacks as leverage, it’s now being rushed through in an attempt to pass it sooner.

This is something the ICO (and many other groups) find worrisome, but it’s the content of the Bill that has them calling for change. The most notorious and, it claims, unjustified aspect of the bill would require ISPs store the browsing history of customers for 12 months, enabling governments and police forces to trawl through it later down the line if needed.

Ostensibly this is to help track down terrosists, but the ICO sees this as a baseless claim.

keymarker

No word on whether May plans to hire the keymaker as of yet

Other concerns include the fact that the bill would potentially force tech companies to provide the government ‘backdoors’ to encryption, making it quite redundant in many people’s eyes. The ICO agrees, stating in its dressing down of the bill (via the Guardian) that weakening encryption would have: “detrimental consequences to the security of data and safeguards which are essential to the public’s continued confidence in the handling and use of their personal information.”

Encryption is vitally important it argues, to guard against the “compromise of personal information.” Instead, it suggests the government should be championing encryption, as the regular breaches of security at corporate firms and of individuals’ private files suggests that obfuscating it would be a good way to protect against hackers.

As it stands, the bill is still being debated, with a new oral evidence session set to take place with Theresa May tomorrow, 13th January.

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KitGuru Says: This really cannot come to pass. Weakening encryption and snooping on citizens will do absolutely nothing to stop terrorists. There are too many avenues of communication to use instead and being able to look at their browsing history later will do nothing to catch someone before they commit a heinous act.

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