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UK heads towards the "Surveillance State"

The Brit government has introduced legislation to its Parliament directed to empowering its agencies to what might be described as its spy powers.       The reaction?      Read this piece "New Bill Edges UK Towards 'Surveillance State'"from CommonDreams which rounds up responses from a variety of responsible bodies.

"As the Guardian reports, the legislation requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep a record of every website every citizen has used for up to a year. It also "[m]akes explicit in law for the first time security services' powers for the 'bulk collection' of large volumes of personal communications data," and it has a "[n]ew 'double-lock' on ministerial authorization of intercept warrants with panel of seven judicial commissioners given power of veto. But exemptions allowed in 'urgent cases' of up to five days."

Glyn Moody adds at Ars Technica UK:

Another major element of the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snooper's Charter) is a legal footing for GCHQ's powers to "interfere with" any computer system, anywhere in the world. This includes listening to phone calls, tracking locations, copying data, and turning on microphones or cameras on mobile phones for the purpose of surveillance. This basically gives GCHQ permission to break into computer systems outside the UK without needing a warrant.

Liberty's take is that "[f]ar from attempting to create a more targeted and effective system, the Bill places the broad mass surveillance powers revealed by Edward Snowden on a statutory footing, including mass interception, mass acquisition of communications data, mass hacking and retention of databases on huge swathes of the population."

Alice Wyss, UK Researcher at Amnesty International, said that while it was good that "proper parliamentary and public scrutiny [were] finally" being given to the surveillance system, "[w]ider snooping powers will take the UK closer to becoming a surveillance state."

"Surveillance should be targeted, not indiscriminate, and the entire system should be placed under the scrutiny and control of independent judges, not politicians," Wyss added. "That’s the only way to safeguard our basic liberties and restore public confidence."


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