Home secretary Theresa May has unveiled the full draft of the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill. Law enforcement professionals are applauding the decision to make various cyber-related police powers explicit in law - but among other groups there are serious concerns about privacy.
Under the proposed bill, UK-based communications companies (like BT and Sky) would be required to keep a record of all websites visited by its users for 12 months, and must cooperate with law enforcement if a request is made for the records. They would also be obliged to help authorities hack users' devices or unencrypt data if issued a warrant to do so.
Local councils would not be allowed access to the information - only the police, spies, and similar authorities. Requests to intercept the content of users' communications would need to be approved by a panel of judges and the home secretary, unless it's an "urgent" case, in which case the approval could be obtained after the intercept.
Seeking information about the time, origin, and destination of communications, on the other hand, would only need the consent of a senior official in the organisation.
It's the first time that security services' exact powers to hack into computers and phones has been made explicit in law, providing a solid "legal framework" for authorities to act within.
May described the record-keeping aspect of the proposal as "simply the modern equivalent of an itemised phone bill", but others disagree - especially as this is a measure banned in the US and all other European countries.
Edward Snowden, well-known whistleblower and director of Freedom of the Press, tweeted: "By my read, #SnoopersCharter legitimizes mass surveillance. It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West."
Source: Financial Times