The UK passed the “most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy”

surveillance law

The UK has just passed a massive expansion of surveillance law. And critics have called this ‘terrifying’ and ‘dangerous’.

Then the new law was introduced by the home secretary, Theresa May in 2012. It took two attempts to get passed into law. This law dubbed as the “snooper’s charter”. Four years and a general election later, the bill has been finalized and passed on Wednesday.

The new surveillance law requires the Internet, phone, and communication app companies. These were used to store records for 12 months. Also, it allowed authorities to access them on demand. That data could be anything from internet search history, calls made or messages sent. The messages include social media messaging apps like Snap-chat and Whats app.

The law also gives the intelligence agencies the power to hack into computers and devices of citizens. But some professions like journalists and medical staff are layered with marginally better protections.

According to Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group, it’s the “most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy”.

Unsurprisingly, the general public doesn’t seem to be pleased, according to some twitter posts.

The bill was opposed by representatives of the United Nations, all major UK. It includes many leading global privacy and rights groups, and some Silicon Valley tech companies. And that’s not even counting the three-quarters of people who think privacy is a human right.

But there are some safeguards. The secretary of state and an independent judicial commissioner must agree on a decision to carry out search warrants. Though one member of the House of Lords has disputed that claim. Also, a new investigatory powers commissioner will also oversee the use of the powers.

People who aren’t ready to give up their online privacy can potentially get around the bill via Virtual Private Network software. This scrambles your usage data. In the meantime, the surveillance law will be ratified by royal assent in the coming weeks.

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