The draft Investigatory Powers Bill this week came under fire for not doing enough to protect user privacy.
The Investigatory Powers Bill or Snooper’s Charter as it has previously been known has attracted a lot of criticism from privacy campaigners and those involved in freedom of speech circles.
As the government tries to pass a bill that will essentially allow countrywide logging powers in the UK it is clear some officials are not that keen on the wording used in the draft bill.
This week the Intelligence and Security Committee who are responsible for combing through the lengthy draft law as a way of ensuring it is a fair and just bill stated that the bill lacks clarity and is missing opportunities.
The main complaint from the committee is that following the revelations of Edward Snowden and the public conscious that those revelations brought regarding user privacy the bill does not do enough to protect that privacy and reassure the public that the bill will serve to protect the majority.
Protection of privacy paramount
The 18 page report published on 9th February stated “it is surprising that the protection of people’s privacy – which is enshrined in other legislation – does not feature more prominently”.
The criticism of the lack of privacy related information was expanded upon in the report stating that it was expected that the bill should have some foreword surrounding privacy or that each area should be completely clear on the privacy protection aspects. However, the committee found that the draft bill had to be investigated thoroughly to find any such information.
Furthermore to the criticism, the report stated that the privacy issues should be the backbone of the law and of which the actual exceptional snooping powers should be worked around.
The report further touched on recent terrorist atrocities and while reflecting on the important job the intelligence agencies do it stated how these acts of terrorism should not be used as a way to ignore the basic fundamental rights of privacy.
In a rather damning report the message was made clear with the statement
Privacy considerations must form an integral part of the legislation, not merely an add-on.
Another area of the proposed legislation is bulk equipment interference that will allow the intelligence agencies the ability to delve inside your personal equipment to extract data, in a round about way a nice way to say legal hacking. The report mentions the scope of targeted equipment interference but it is clear the committee feels bulk interference that will allow indiscriminate snooping goes a step too far.
What is clear from the report is how poorly written the draft Snooper’s Charter legislation is and how UK citizens should be thankful that committee oversight like this plays a part in considering all aspects of the bill. It also allows the everyday public to understand the lacking of proposed laws and how they may affect us should they become law.
If the law ends up passing users can be thankful that a VPN service will protect you from any intrusive logging of your browsing habits.
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