Liberty Survey Finds British Opposition to Snoopers Charter

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Nine in ten Brits are against the mass surveillance powers contained in the Investigatory Powers Bill.

According to a survey of 1,003 British adults by Liberty, 90% either say that it is only acceptable for the Government to access their communications data or online activity if they are suspected of or have committed a crime, or that this practice is never acceptable. Also, 72% of respondents claimed not to know anything about the Investigatory Powers bill, while 54% claim to have never heard of the plans to introduce the bill into law.

Liberty, who believe that targeted access to communications data based on suspicion, with a robust system of independent judicial oversight, is important in preventing and detecting serious crime, claimed that the sold called “Snoopers Charter” would force telco companies and internet service providers to store every person’s communications data for a year, which could be accessed by dozens of public bodies with no need for suspicion of criminality.

Bella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty, said: “In its effort to expand the surveillance state, the Government is already ignoring technology experts, service providers and three cross-party parliamentary committees – but the views of the British public will be harder for even the Home Secretary to dismiss.

“This Bill would create a detailed profile on each of us which could be made available to hundreds of organizations to speculatively trawl and analyze. It will all but end online privacy, put our personal security at risk and swamp law enforcement with swathes of useless information. 

“The vast majority of people know nothing about this Bill but, when asked, overwhelmingly reject this approach – MPs must listen to those they represent, vote against this rotten legislation and give us the effective, targeted system the British people want, need and deserve.”

In a blog, the Open Rights Group said that the idea of “passive” retained records, that lie unexamined until someone comes to the attention of the authorities, will lie dead.

“The data becomes an actively checked resource, allowing everyone’s potential guilt to be assessed as needed,” it said.

“The filter creates convenience for law enforcement queries, and pushes practice towards the use of intrusive capabilities. It lowers the practical level on which they are employed. Techniques that today would be used only in the most serious crimes, because they require thought and care, tomorrow may be employed in run of the mill criminal activity, public order, or even food standards, as the bill stands.”

Home Secretary Theresa May is set to make more concessions on the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill which could boost privacy protections for UK citizens, ahead of a parliamentary debate on the proposed legislation this week.

May is set to include a new clause in the bill which will ensure any authorizations for intrusive surveillance and the like will only be granted if the information cannot be obtained by less intrusive means, according to The Guardian.

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