New UK Surveillance Charter Prompts Security Fears

New UK Surveillance Charter Prompts Security Fears

The UK has officially signed into law The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, commonly known as the Snooper’s Charter, on Tuesday, November 29. The legislation has been a year in the making and offers unprecedented new powers to police and spy agencies in the UK for keeping tabs on British citizens.

The bill legalizes the global surveillance activities, including bulk data collection and hacking, that the government has conducted, more or less, in secret for years. It requires phone and internet companies to store communications data generated by email, apps, and internet use for 12 months and to make that information accessible to police and security services.

The act was introduced as a result of terrorism attacks that plagued the UK in 2015 and 2016. Internet rights groups, however, criticize the bill saying privacy is dead for internet users. 

U.S.-based tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter have urged the government not to push through with the Snooper’s Charter.

“To the extent this could involve the introduction of risks or vulnerabilities into products or services; it would be a very dangerous precedent to set," Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said in a December 2015 joint statement.

Edward Snowden, the world’s most famous whistleblower, said the UK legalized the “most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.” 

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