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UK parliament passes “Snooper’s Charter”, including wide-ranging surveillance powers

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World News Publishing Focus
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UK parliament passes “Snooper’s Charter”, including wide-ranging surveillance powers

According to the Financial Times, the bill was opposed by a range of “privacy advocates, academics and a host of major technology and telecoms companies”, especially concerning clauses that compel companies to keep bulk records of their users for up to a year and allow the government to access the data.

However, the government is to appoint an Investigatory Powers Commissioner as well as judicial commissioners and independent judges to oversee any warrants. The bill is will be codified into law after royal assent, which is expected by the end of November. 

The new bill, which Edward Snowden described as legalising “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy”, require telecoms to keep a record of every site visited and call made by their clients, as well as recording their date, time and duration. Moreover, numerous government agencies will be able to access the communications data. The bill also includes legal basis, requiring a warrant, to force tech companies to create a backdoor into their encrypted services.

According to PressGazette, “additional protections” have been included in the bill to protect journalists’ sources, after pressure from media companies. But many news media groups still say the protections do not go far enough. For instance the Guardian said that the legislation “fails to provide adequate protection for journalists’ sources”.

The bill has also provoked concern due to its extraterritorial nature, as foreign companies with British consumers would need to comply, even if their home country has conflicting laws.

According to Ars Technica, the bill is likely to be challenged at the Court of Justice of the European Union, which, based on previous rulings, is likely to strike it down. But how Brexit negotiations evolve would naturally play a big a part in how the UK government would react to the Court’s decision. 

Author

Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson

Date

2016-11-21 13:50

Author information

The news publishing industry is experiencing transformation at an ever-growing pace, with new policy issues arising as the landscape changes.

We will be examining policy discussions that will define the news publishing environment of the future, the key topics being internet governance, privacy and copyright. Click here to learn more about our work.

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