The latest version of a bill known as the “Snoopers Charter” was put forward to parliament by Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, on Tuesday. May has said that the latest version of the bill has taken into account most of the 122 recommendations made by members of parliament and peers, and apparently increases privacy, safeguards and oversight.
The bill was developed following the massive disclosure of state surveillance programs by Edward Snowden, and attempts to develop the first legal framework for surveillance anywhere in the world. May states that the bill is of vital importance in a world where crime is more often moving online and ensures that police forces can keep up to the rapid change.
The newest version of the bill requires that, among many other things, internet providers store customer data for up to a year and allows police forces to access any such data as long as it is “necessary and proportionate for a specific investigation”. It also allows a few police forces and security agencies to remotely hack phones and computers, as well as bypass encryption software on seized devices.
The ability to hack and bypass must be signed off by a designated officer and judge in a so called “Double Lock” system. Additionally, communications companies will not be forced to decrypt messages unless it is “Practicable“. Extra safeguards will also be put in place for lawyers and journalists.
The first draft of the bill was put forward to various committees, including ones on security and technology, and resulted in calls for the bill to be rewritten entirely with more emphasis being placed on oversight and safeguards. Many have criticised the latest version as not only failing to meet these demands but also expands the reach of the bill.