After its election earlier this month, the UK Conservative Government has today outlined its policy priorities for the coming parliamentary session. Historic pomp and circumstance surrounds the Queen’s Speech (written by the government of the day and read by Her Majesty), but one of the proposed bills will give the government a much wider remit in a very modern area – checking on British citizens’ internet and phone usage.
In the words of the Investigatory Powers Bill, the authorities will be given “the tools to keep you and your family safe.” The bill also claims it will “address gaps” in intelligence gathering. In addition, it will give access to communications data which, the government says, is putting “lives at risk.”
The proclaimed targets of the bill will be “terrorists, paedophiles and other serious criminals.” A similar proposal was produced in 2012 but was shot down by the then junior Coalition partners in the government.
While details of the bill will not be revealed for a few days, its announcement is already enough to give concerns to civil rights groups who fear it will lead to mass surveillance. It is likely that ISPs and phone operators will be required to store a much greater amount of data on people’s data and phone usage, including recipients of calls, texts and instant messages.
Police and authorities in Britain argue that this bill is required to keep up with advances in technology and help prevent terrorist attacks. Opponents argue that collecting this amount of information is difficult in terms of practicalities and against the spirit of “innocent until proven guilty.”
Jim Killock, executive director of The Open Rights Group, said:
The government is signalling that it wants to press ahead with increased powers of data collection and retention for the police and GCHQ, spying on everyone, whether suspected of a crime or not.
What do you think of plans by the UK Government to gather more information of phone and internet usage of its citizens? How does it compare with where you live? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter, Facebook or Google+.Source: BBC