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UK Voters Head Happily Towards Surveillance State

UK citizens are sleepwalking into a surveillance state nightmare, with three-quarters not even aware of the hugely contentious Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) currently being debated in parliament, according to a new study.

Broadband Genie interviewed 1600 adults in the UK on the controversial proposed legislation and found a worrying lack of engagement or awareness about the IPB, also dubbed the ‘Snoopers’ Charter.’

Despite over a third of respondents (36%) claiming they support the IPB, nearly half (44%) said they didn’t think police should have the right to access encrypted communications and devices – one of the main tenets of the new legislation.

The bill itself introduces a number of controversial elements, including a requirement for ISPs to hold web browsing records for a year so that police can access them in investigations.

It is also set to enshrine in law “bulk interception warrants” and “bulk equipment interference warrants” and gives the green light to police to force companies to remove encryption where it is “practical” to do so.

“We are still waiting for evidence that programs that put us all under surveillance are the most effective way to combat terrorism. Previous terrorist incidents, such as the attacks in Paris and Belgium and the murder of Lee Rigby, were committed by people already known to the intelligence agencies,” argued Open Rights Group executive director, Jim Killock.

“There have been repeated calls for operational cases about the effectiveness of surveillance to be made; the Home Office has provided some anecdotal evidence but not a full cost benefit analysis."

The Snoopers’ Charter itself has come under repeated criticism from industry experts and lawmakers – criticism roundly ignored by the government, which is trying to rush it through parliament.

An open letter criticizing the bill was sent to the government, signed by over 200 of the country’s top lawyers, and three major parliamentary committees tasked with scrutinizing it have also voiced significant concerns – calling for over 100 changes to be made to the draft legislation.

"We will be the only European country that forces Internet Service Providers to record the internet browsing history of its citizens" said Killock. "Even if individuals are unperturbed by this breach of their privacy, they should be made aware of the impact the bill will have on business, journalists, lawyers and activists."

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