Open Rights Group vows to fight new IP Law

November 18, 2016 | 10:03

Tags: #investigatory-powers #investigatory-powers-bill #ip-bill #jim-killock #law #privacy #theresa-may

Companies: #gchq #house-of-lords #open-rights-group #parliament

The Open Rights Group, a pro-privacy lobby organisation, has vowed to fight the Investigatory Powers Law, dubbed the Snooper's Charter by its critics, following its passing in the House of Lords earlier this week.

Originally launched as the Draft Communications Data Bill in 2012 and shot down by a vote of the coalition government of the day, the 'Snooper's Charter' was reborn in May 2015 following the election of a majority Conservative government. Early that month, Theresa May confirmed plans to bring back the bill while the Queen's Speech later that month formalised the government's plans and gave the bill its new name: the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Further details of the bill were released in November 2015, including the news that it extend the use of 'equipment interference' - modifying or otherwise attacking everything from routers and gateways to smartphones, tablets, and PCs - from being exclusively for the use of the UK's security services under the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to the armed forces and law enforcement officials. Despite quite considerable objections from pro-privacy groups and the technology industry earlier this year, the IP Bill is now the IP Law following a successful vote by the House of Lords - and its critics are, unsurprisingly, unimpressed.

'The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the UK's shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers,' claimed Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, following the vote. 'The IP Bill will put into statute the powers and capabilities revealed by [Edward] Snowden as well as increasing surveillance by the police and other government departments. There will continue to be a lack of privacy protections for international data sharing arrangements with the US. Parliament has also failed to address the implications of the technical integration of GCHQ and the NSA.'

'While parliamentarians have failed to limit these powers, the Courts may succeed. A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, expected next year, may mean that parts of the Bill are unlawful and need to be amended. ORG and others will continue to fight this draconian law.'

The government is expected to announce enforcement of the law, which includes sections requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to keep users' web browsing history for twelve months and giving the police and government new powers to access this data through a dedicated search engine, in the coming weeks.
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