If you’re in the UK, you should be starting to get very worried about the Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as the “Snoopers Charter.” A final reading of the bill took place on October 31st–Halloween, and after a few potential amendments, the bill will be granted Royal Assent soon–shortly becoming law in the UK.
In summary, the Bill gives total surveillance power to the UK’s government by allowing them to collect and intercept communications. In totality, the bill will:
- Force your ISP to keep logs of your services and websites that you use for 12 months
- Force communication companies to retain your communications and hand them over after noticed, as well as process encryption removal
- The bill forges new rules on who can intercept and read communications
- Legalize agencies to covertly download contents of your phone or computer through remote access
- Use said powers at mass scale to use data on a large number of people
- Create warrants to examine and process bulk user data like tax histories, medical records, etc
So why is the UK going to pass this new bill? Well, like all countries which censor the internet, control, and monitor user data, and place restrictions on how the internet is used–it’s to protect citizens from terrorism and children from pornography. The UK hopes to use the bill’s power to capture criminals and identify who is sharing child pornography.
Sure no one wants cyber criminals or child porn, but the bill goes above and beyond what is needed with very little restrictions (as you may have noted in our bullet points, these new laws within the bill are very inclusive).
With the power of the bill, the government can monitor anyone at any time. Julian Huppert, a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, explains the issue perfectly when she says “some of the powers in the Bill are deeply intrusive and with very little possible justification. All of us want to be safe, and protected from terrorists and the like – but the evidence that these powers are all needed is thin indeed. However, the cost to all of our privacy is huge.”
With the new bill, the government is handling a mass amount of user data which isn’t safe, especially when authorities are bypassing encryption and opening backdoors to nefarious parties like hackers. Nic Scott, managing director of data security specialists Code42, told ComputerworldUK: “You either have encryption in place, or you don’t. Once you create a backdoor for law enforcement purposes, you are also opening the door to other, potentially malicious, parties.”
While some safeguards in the bill require agencies first to try un-intrusive methods, we’ve seen in the past that organizations like MI5 and GCHQ have unlawfully collected mass amounts of data from UK citizens without any ramifications.
This bill is passing soon, so there isn’t much you can do about it but take security into your own hands with a VPN service like TorGuard.
With TorGuard anonymous VPN, you can encrypt your data with a double layered security approach that hides your VPN use itself, and changes your IP to that of a shared VPN server IP address. Even if someone is monitoring you, they can’t see what your data looks like since your web usage is completely encrypted through TorGuard’s extended server network.