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IP Bill - Snoopers' Charter


The Government is continuing it's tradition of believing it is allowed to operate in secret while the rest of us must be subject to their investigatory powers even when completely innocent and without reasonable suspicion. These powers can be used to deep dive into anyone's personal lives without any kind of court order.

The formal opposition aren't suggesting much better and think the IP bill is not inherently bad but simply needs tweaking.

It doesn't make sense!

1) An ISC report on the draft IP Bill tells of "currently inconsistent and confusing" definitions of what the Bill considers "communications" data and does not agree that "class bulk personal dataset warrants" should form any part of the bill.

2) The Joint Committee made up of MPs and Peets published a 194 report criticising the bill, which included 86 recommendations. Their report mentions "inconsistencies in the safeguards against unreasonable warrants".

3) The Science and Technology Committee submitted a 34 page report with 14 recommendations and warned that the bill could put UK tech sector at risk.

Businesses don't want it

The bill has had a lot of negative response from businesses and non-partisan groups and some MPs are warning it is bad for business - but not enough of them! CEO of TechUK, Antony Walker said "Today's report from the ISC again makes it clear that the bill lacks clarity on fundamental issues, such as core definitions of key terms, encryption and equipment interference,". He added "Our members are unsure exactly what is meant by Internet Connection Records, how they will be gathered, stored and accessed. This kind of detail is crucial to understanding the impact of the proposed bill.".

Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook have all published a long list of problems with the IP Bill, here are three:

  • Encryption. "Clarity on encryption is still required," the evidence says. "Our companies believe that encryption is a fundamental security tool, important to the security of the digital economy as well as crucial to ensuring the safety of web users worldwide. The Bill provides for the power to issue technical capability notices requiring, among other things, the removal of electronic protection where reasonably practicable. The Bill should be amended so that there is an explicit threshold: where a service is encrypted end-to-end, the Bill should recognise it will not be reasonably practicable to provide decrypted content, rather than leave this to be established on a case-by-case basis."
  • Oversight. The companies call for stronger oversight of the powers the bill will grant law enforcement, "to build public trust and set an example worthy of global emulation."
  • Protecting networks. The companies want to make sure that law enforcement activities do not harm their infrastructure, and that they will be kept in the loop when vulnerabilities in their software are discovered. The evidence reads: "There are no statutory provisions relating to the importance of network integrity and cyber security, nor a requirement for agencies to inform companies of vulnerabilities they identify and may be exploited by other actors. We urge the Government to make clear that actions taken under authorization do not introduce new risks or vulnerabilities for users or businesses, and that the goal of eliminating vulnerabilities is one shared by the UK Government."

The experts don't want it

ORG Executive Director Jim Killock agreed with TechUK. "Theresa May must ensure that the ISC's very serious and considered demands are dealt with in full," he said. "Rushing through legislation has to stop. It's time for a proper debate about whether bulk surveillance powers are acceptable in a democracy like the UK."

EFF claims the bill will lead to "unbridled surveillance":

"The Investigatory Powers Bill, as written, is so vague as to permit a vast range of surveillance actions, with profoundly insufficient oversight or insight into what Britain's intelligence, military and police intend to do with their powers," said EFF's Eva Galperin and Danny O'Brien in a statement. "It is, in effect, a carefully crafted loophole wide enough to drive all of the existing mass surveillance practice through." said EFF's Eva Galperin.

We don't want it!

The IP Bill spits in the face of our civil liberties. The right to privacy is the right to be imperfect. Privacy is a human right and protects our human dignity. We need to reject attempts to reframe privacy as a privilage for the rule-maker's only. Privacy is absolutely essential for democratic participation.

We should not sell our privacy and risk the intrusitve and risky interference in our personal affairs over a red herring.

The Snooper's charter isn't fit for purpose, is inconsistent but does manage to squeese in disruptive, dangerous, disproportionate powers.

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