May Set To Revive Snooper’s Charter

May 11, 2015

Recently re-appointed Home Secretary Theresa May has indicated that the new majority Conservative government could mean the return of the Communications Data Bill.

The legislation, widely known as the Snooper’s Charter, has attempted to go through Parliament a number of times but has always received too much opposition.

Under the Bill, the government would have access to communications data in the UK, including personal emails, Internet browsing, phone calls and text messages.

Telecommunications firms and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be paid to log customers’ emails, Internet use and other correspondence in a way that is easy to search for security officials.

Such data would be retained for a year and the Police, National Crime Agency (NCA), intelligence agencies and HMRC, would all be given access, with the potential for other bodies to be granted access in the future.

Speaking to the UK press shortly after her re-election as MP for Maidenhead, May indicated that the new laws might be pushed through now that Parliament is a Tory majority.

However, as the majority is only a small one, there is still a chance that the Conservatives may face difficult in pushing the Snooper’s Charter through.

According to May, security services require these greater surveillance powers in order to stop terrorists, claiming that modern technology such as the Internet and smartphones has changed the way people communicate and so the way terrorism is planned.

David Cameron has already said, and I’ve said, that a Conservative government would be giving the security agencies and law enforcement agencies the powers that they need to ensure they’re keeping up to date as people communicate with communications data,” the Home Secretary told the BBC.

“We were prevented from bringing in that legislation into the last government because of the coalition with the Liberal Democrats and we are determined to bring that through, because we believe that it is necessary to maintain the capabilities for our law enforcement agencies such that they can continue to do the excellent job, day in and day out, of keeping us safe and secure,” she added.

Campaigners Already Speaking Out

Privacy and human rights campaigners are already coming forward to express their concerns about the new Conservative government and its plans to revive the Communications Data Bill.

“David Cameron has said that every message we send should be readable by the state – even when we’ve encrypted it,” claimed Ed Paton-Williams, a campaigner in the Open Rights Group, whilst also pointing out that the Tory manifesto contains a few policies that will impact on digital rights.  

“This is clearly a bad list of policies for digital rights supporters and we’re going to fight them every step of the way. The Conservatives have a very small majority so if we work hard enough and persuade enough MPs, we can protect our digital rights and the Internet,” he added.


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