Adrian Farrel : Consequences of the IP Bill for You and Your Internet Service Provider

Well, like it or not (and I don't) the Investigatory Powers Bill has received royal assent and so is something that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to take seriously. But what does it all mean for you and your ISP?

Internet Connection Records

The new bill requires that Internet Connection Records (ICRs) are retained by communications service providers. The intention is that government agencies shall be able to look at the retained data subject to due legal process allowing law enforcement agencies to attribute illegal activity on the internet to a person in the real world.

The Government has been famously coy in defining what an ICR actually is. They say things like, "Internet connection records (ICRs) are records of the internet services that have been accessed by a device. They would include, for example, a record of the fact that a smartphone had accessed a particular social media website at a particular time." And they give examples of usage such as, "Internet Connection Records when used with Internet Protocol (IP) resolution data would allow law enforcement agencies to trace the individuals who accessed [particular] images."

The Government is also are quite keen to say what they are not: "ICRs do not provide a full internet browsing history. The ICRs do not reveal every web page that a person visited or any action carried out on that web page."

But this is all very unclear. Does the ICR stop at noting that you visited www.blogspot.com, or does it go as far as distinguishing visits to mamarihanna.blogspot.com and womenhealth85.blogspot.com?

Mark Chapman : Pirate Party - A Pirate's guide to online privacy

So what's this new IPBill I keep hearing about?

Recently passed as legislation by Parliament, the IPBill (amongst other things) requires your ISP to retain a log of all the websites and apps that your computer or mobile phone connects to. This data can then be viewed and accessed by the Police, Department of Health and any other Government agency that is given access without a court order. Equally, once stored it will be a magnet for hackers and some of the data will, at some point, be hacked into by a 3rd party and released publically.

Why is that a problem for me?

The list of every website that you visit is hugely personal information. Just think about those that you visited over the last week. It would almost certainly reveal who you bank with, where you get your main source of news, your political affiliation, which social media networks you use and how often, any health issues you might currently be concerned about, what schools your children attend, where you are thinking of going on holiday or what presents you are looking at for your loved one(s). For even the most innocent person, it is information that could be embarrassing if your work colleagues knew about it, but could be really valuable for anyone wanting to steal your identity. 

It is even more of a potential problem for lawyers protecting client confidentiality to ensure a fair justice system, for journalists protecting sources and the knowledge of stories that they are currently investigating, to minorites who are being, or who could be targetted and harrassed by others.

So what can I do about it?

What Price Security Surveillance Now?

Adrian Farrel's picture

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting of the Manchester branch of the Open Rights Group to discuss the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill known as the IPBill and currently about to be discussed and voted on by the House of Lords.

The meeting included a showing of The Haystack (http://thehaystackdocumentary.squarespace.com/watch/) a short documentary film about surveillance in the UK. We then had an open discussion of the film and the IPBill with a panel including Gary Herman from the National Union of Journalists, Gary Hough from Zen Internet, Loz Kaye from Open Intelligence, and myself.

While recognising the threats posed by terrorism, paedophilia, and organised crime, the room seemed unanimous in its belief that the IPBill is poorly conceived, lacking in detail, and over-reaching in its powers. For some background on the IPBill see https://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Investigatory_Powers_Bill.

Defeat the Snoopers' Charter

Tuesday, 15 March, 2016 - 10:45

The Pirate Party is calling on MPs of all parties to work together to defeat the Investigatory Powers Bill, which gets its second reading in the House of Commons today.

The bill would force internet companies to keep customers' browsing records for up to a year and turn them over to authorities without a warrant. It also seeks to legalise the mass hacking of people's phones and computers by government without any individual suspicion.

Adrian Short, Pirate Party spokesperson, said:

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