Yesterday the House of Lords backed down on a number of amendments about press regulation, meaning that the final text of the Investigatory Powers Bill has now been agreed by both houses of Parliament. After it receives Royal Assent it will become law.
The Bill will make the UK the only European or Commonwealth country to retain records of every citizen’s internet browsing history. It also confirms the ability of the intelligence services to gather vast amounts of personal information in bulk from citizens, intercept communications and hack into devices.
Big Brother Watch was heavily involved in attempting to ensure the Bill balanced privacy and security. We produced a range of factsheets to break down the Bill’s contents as well as giving both written and oral evidence to the committees tasked with scrutinising it.
Despite this work the Bill is still deficient in many ways. The much vaunted “double lock” on authorising surveillance isn’t strong enough and leaves too much power in the hands of politicians. There is no guarantee that citizens will be told if they have been put under surveillance wrongfully. Perhaps worst of all the use of Technical Capability Notices to weaken encryption will harm security for everyone, not improve it.
All these issues and more like them mean that the Bill is still not right. As we have previously warned it actually risks undermining the Government’s newly announced cyber security strategy. This problem alone means that, in all probability, the Bill will have to be reviewed sooner rather than later.
Supporters of the Bill claimed that it is needed to keep us, the country and the national infrastructure safe. By hoarding more of our information in vast databases and weakening encryption it risks doing the exact opposite.