The UK Parliament has approved the Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill, commonly referred to as the Snooper’s Charter, legislation that expands and provides legal cover for UK’s exhaustive surveillance system. The bill, which will receive royal assent within the next few weeks, sets an unfortunate global standard for authorities that threaten the rights to privacy and freedoms of expression.
Access Now joined technology companies, academics, civil society, and internet users calling on Parliament to improve protections within the text. Those calls were largely ignored. Among many flaws, the IP Bill undermines the use of encryption, authorizes bulk hacking, mandates data retention, and fails to require independent judicial authorization for surveillance orders. Moreover, the IP Bill will have global impact as it enables orders to be imposed on internet companies around the globe. Despite the purpose of the law, the IP Bill will not only make us less free but also less safe.
“By passing the Snooper’s Charter, the UK Parliament has codified and expanded government spying, the worst kind of response to knowledge of mass government surveillance. In so doing, they have put the fundamental human rights of all internet users at risk,” said Drew Mitnick, Policy Counsel at Access Now. “Bulk government hacking and limitations on the use of strong encryption will only make the internet a less welcoming environment for the exercise of our rights.”
The IP Bill was pushed through Parliament due to the looming sunset of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA). The UK High Court previously ruled that DRIPA violated EU law. In response to the passage of the IP Bill, Access Now supports renewed efforts to challenge UK surveillance authorities.
“We have seen numerous challenges against UK surveillance powers, in particular legislation with extensive data retention mandates over the past several years.” said Lucie Krahulcova, Policy Associate at Access Now. “The outcomes of these proceedings will inadvertently affect the IP Bill and its endurance.”
For more information on ongoing legal proceeding against UK surveillance powers:
- Court of Justice of the European Union: Watson & Others
- European Court of Human Rights: Big Brother Watch & others v. the UK
- European Court of Human Rights: 10 Human Rights Organizations and others v. the UK
- European Court of Human Rights: Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Alice Ross v the UK
Drew Mitnick – Policy Counsel, Access Now