What Do New Surveillance Laws Mean For Digital Privacy

June 12, 2019 posted by

every age has its own surveillance technologies its own ways of peering into the gloom times change though and techniques need updating these radio dishes were taken down in the 1980s and left to rust in a Lincolnshire field these are their successes nowadays most communication is online there is a vast amount of information and it's collected and analyzed at stations like this in GCHQ Butte and Cornwall surveillance laws haven't kept up with technology the Home Secretary has introduced the investigatory powers bill or if you prefer the snoopers Charter to bring a mess of existing surveillance powers into one comprehensive piece of legislation today we are setting out a modern legal framework which brings together current powers in a clear and comprehensible way a new bill that provides some of the strongest protections and safeguards anywhere in the Democratic world and an approach that sets new standards for openness transparency and oversight this new legislation will underpin the work of law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies for years to come it is their license to operate with the direct democratic approval of parliament to protect our national security and the public safety the government has also added one major new Park the requirement for every person's internet browsing history to be recorded for a year other controversial points included who should sign off surveillance words judges or politicians the powers of GCHQ and the question of encryption but the central dilemma is this how much power should security services and police forces have to look at our most private communications if in the future we have a situation where the security services are able to stop terrorist attacks in the UK and that's a good thing no one no one wants to be followed around no one wants to have their communications intercepted but this is actually about stopping serious criminals indiscriminate mass surveillance is a real concern it's a violation of people's right to privacy it has massive repercussions for other rights of associate and of assembly and this new bill has the potential of continuing mass indiscriminate surveillance practically every form of communication in British history has been subject to surveillance from letters to the Internet Mary Queen of Scots was executed after a coded letter she sent detailing a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth the first was intercepted and decoded The Telegraph when it was invented quickly became subject to surveillance by the British government when telephones were invented they were tapped all of these intrusive powers required a warrant in the late 19th century people were listening through walls with glasses stuck to the walls and often in hotel rooms you had a double suite so a spy could hire the room next with a flimsy wall in between and by the first world war they had dictaphones which they could stick behind curtains and record conversations by the 1950s you had rooms huge big rooms full of computers during the encryption and decryption surveillance is here to stay that's for sure we've lost our privacy it will never return so what we do need to do is to ensure that it doesn't get out of hand originally these four huge dishes were mounted on high facing out east over the sea looking for a known enemy using known tactics and known technologies but today the reality is a lot Messier and that's the reality the bill addresses we don't listen to conversations and if you could hear the snatches that we do you would understand why the problem isn't so much that legislation is slower but that technology is moving much faster it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users it took the internet for years and the Internet we had pre-2000 was pretty basic hello google.com now there are 1 billion smartphones in the world Facebook has 1.5 billion users that incessant online activity is a potential goldmine for intelligence services but it's also a danger today's young adults have grown up in the digital age and they spend more of their lives online we are 3 what they thought of the new bill be on our phones 24/7 I'm on my whatsapp I'm on my Twitter so it's a situation where it's like I do not want to have my information out there especially conversations private conversations where these laws are going to have access to that I don't think that's I don't think that's right this is essentially a blanket surveillance operation there is no sort of target in this per se it's everyone's data and everyone's metadata regardless of who they are and whether they lived a perfectly innocent life for the past 4 years you need to have a relationship where liberty and security are able to be compatible and this takes takes away liberty and make security the Big Brother in a sense people's messages have been divided into two types for the purposes of the security services there's communications data and there's content if I send a text message the authorities can see what time I send that message where I was and that I sent it to you that's done through communications data also known as metadata and doesn't require a warrant but the content of that message what I write to you can't be accessed without a warrant the same goes for accessing websites and opening apps on our phone authorities will be able to tell which sites I've looked at which apps I've used all without a warrant they can't tell what I wrote in that message though whether that's a text an email or a Facebook message to teach them a lesson that will never forget security services and police say that communications data has been vital in foiling terror plots such as the 2006 and to bring down transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs I guarantee that surveillance has been used in all the prevention of all the the six attacks I think the Home Secretary in the head of the security services are said I guarantee that using technical surveillance will have been involved in those that there's no detail obviously but of course we have to face the fact that the world is moved on and we need to have laws that allow the security services to to protect us it's also useful in serious domestic crime ninety five percent of all criminal prosecutions rely on communications data that figure includes the prosecution of Ian Watkins the former lost prophet singer found guilty of sexually abusing babies there was no physical evidence nor witnesses at the start of the investigation communications data gave the lead the prosecution eventually relied heavily on phone contacts and text messages the other argument is that the distinction between communications data and content doesn't make much sense in a truly digital age given how often we use our smartphones and how much information they record the who where and when can be just as revealing as the what in a way that a letter or a phone call just isn't we live our lives online your browsing history is a record of your life and under the new laws that record is open to police and security services is an additional kind of intrusion I suppose into into people's private lives and one that Parliament needs to think very carefully about in terms of a whether it's really necessary and then secondly whether it's proportionate but it's really the job of Parliament to come to that determination Edward Snowden first revealed the scale of internet monitoring post security services in 2013 his leaked documents set in trained a number of independent reviews of UK surveillance which the investigatory powers built drawers on this is where that monitoring happens and the donut GC excuse headquarters in Cheltenham billions of data points are analyzed each day GCHQ s ability to collect bulk intelligence is governed by a warrant under the new bill the warrant must be focused on people outside the UK however the whole point of bulk interception is that it devours the records of millions of people without regard for their nationality UK citizens data will still be scooped up one thing is sure there is no doubt that state surveillance has exceeded its power several times the fact that it's being confirmed that our communications were intercepted they were held they were stored and that's a matter of huge concern the bigger concern is that we have absolutely no idea what was stored what was intercepted by the government what did they do with it who did they send it to and are they still doing it the question of warrants is also key to the new bill in another respect previously when mi6 or any of the other services wanted to access the content of the communication they'd ask for a warrant and that was signed off by the home or foreign secretaries in Parliament under the new plans though those warrants will now also have to be signed off at the Royal Courts of Justice by a judge the Home Secretary described it as a double lock system the judges have a role to play but that role should be to verify and to check what has been done and by ministers and it is absolutely essential that if judges are to be involved they should be trained and given a full understanding of the national security issues they're dealing with because that is actually not the natural territory of judges even with a warrant though there's another problem with getting at the content of a message remember how it took the internet for years to reach 50 million people well it took whatsapp and Instagram less than two years these services have superseded text messages and emails and they're tricky for the UK government to access first US companies like Facebook and Apple are not subject to UK law and they work with the UK government on a voluntary basis second some of those companies keep messages encrypted to keep them safe so that even they are unable to unscramble them a spate of hacks most notably TalkTalk has only highlighted the need to protect people online the UK government already had the legal power to ask companies to hand over so-called content in the clear unencrypted communications that power has never been tested but it has been retained in the bill even though the Home Secretary said the bill does not ban encryption Sky News understands that technology companies would fight this power if it were used this bill isn't just about bringing laws up-to-date with modern technology for decades police and security services have worked shrouded in secrecy but paradoxically as the threat has become more unpredictable more unnerving security services and police admit they have to be more open about how they work this bill needs to live a transparency accountability and oversight some will frame this as an old-fashioned two-sided debate security versus liberty but with so many valid and competing claims it's much less clear and much more complex than that Tom Cheshire Sky News


14 Replies to “What Do New Surveillance Laws Mean For Digital Privacy”

  1. Woodie Edsel says:

    So how did these bombing happen lately?

  2. Eline Linda ZagovaWinterSong says:

    I can't believe it Just what they are doing…

  3. kay marley says:

    Someone has me under surveillance for about 2 and half years I never signed no consent it's not fair I don't know who's doing this but I know it's illgel but everyone thinks I'm just a crazy person.. some how everyone thinks it's their right to invade my privacy I didn't even do anything no cops came no one is letting me know who's doing this to me

  4. Danny boy says:

    Just been ruled unlawful. We have our freedom back..

  5. Penni Williams -Elliott says:

    privacy is a thing of the past. what is privacy?

  6. Big Ray says:


  7. Big Ray says:


  8. Lawrence Reitan says:

    They are using the Terrorism as an ecuse, till today they didn't stop anything because they got no means to analyze tons of datas
    George Orwell was DAMN RIGHT
    1984 Has Begun

  9. Shankar Asnani says:

    Good Legislation but must have some safeguards

  10. Adam Pisca says:

    I am for

  11. gan9e says:

    everything is for sale…

  12. Kevin G says:

    Theresa May would see mankind corralled into a neatly furnished prison. Sapped of spirit and robbed of all human rights. They're provoking revolution and I can only hope it comes soon. I'd rather live in anarchy.

  13. Seeker of Peace says:

    1984 in the making.

  14. Boffin Grusky says:

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety". – Benjamin Franklin.

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