WWW Inventor Attacks New Undemocratic UK Surveillance Law
Ashley Allen / 2 years ago
The Investigatory Powers Bill, nicknamed the Snoopers’ Charter, which requires UK ISPs to record the internet history of every user within the country for twelve months, and grants police, intelligence, and government departments access to that information, as given Royal Assent today, meaning it has officially become law. The law has been called “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy” by NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden, and described by UN privacy chief Joseph Cannataci as “worse than scary,” and over 130,000 people have signed an official Parliament petition to repeal the law, while human rights organisation Liberty is planning to fight the legitimacy of the law in court.
One of those dissenting voices is Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee has branded the law a “security nightmare” which “has no place in modern democracy.”
“This snoopers charter has no place in a modern democracy – it undermines our fundamental rights online,” Berners-Lee told the BBC. “The bulk collection of everyone’s internet browsing data is disproportionate, creates a security nightmare for the ISPs who must store the data – and rides roughshod over our right to privacy. Meanwhile, the bulk hacking powers in the Bill risk making the internet less safe for everyone.”
Berners-Lee asserts that the IP Bill becoming law, despite fierce opposition from ISPs, human rights and privacy organisations, and he himself over the past four years, is a reflection of the current political climate, which he blames as being a distraction from empowering MPs to fight it.
“This Bill has come at an unprecedented time. Brexit – and other global political developments – have taken up the bulk of MPs time and attention in the past 18 months,” he said. “MPs were asked to review an incredibly complex Bill with over 500 pages of supporting documents in a tight timescale while other seismic political events were unfolding around them. The fact that most MPs are not technologists likely also played a role – they may simply not have understood just how intrusive the laws they were considering were.”
The fight is not over, though, Berners-Lee reminds. The UK public are fighting it, and the matter will be challenged in the courts.
“However, public outrage and legal challenges are building around the Bill, meaning the story isn’t over yet,” a defiant Berner-Lee said. “A petition to repeal the Bill has reached over 100,000 signatures in just a few days, meaning Parliament must consider debating it again. I strongly urge them to do so.”
“Meanwhile, multiple legal challenges to the provisions around data retention and bulk hacking are making their way through the courts, and seem to have a good prospect of success, meaning the Bill may soon need to be amended,” he added.