A new Parliamentary Joint Committee on the latest draft of the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill proposal – colloquially known as the Snooper’s Charter, due to its wide-ranging powers of mass surveillance – has called for “significant changes” and “important clarity” to be added to the controversial proposal.
“The Government still needs to make explicit on the face of the Bill that CSPs (communication service providers) offering end-to-end encrypted communication or other un-decryptable communication services will not be expected to provide decrypted copies of those communications if it is not practicable for them to do so,” the Joint Committee’s report reads. “We recommend that a draft Code of Practice should be published alongside the Bill for Parliament to consider.”
The report also criticises those involved in the creation of the IP Bill, a proposal driven primarily by Home Secretary Theresa May MP, and their (mis)comprehension of the internet. “We recommend that more effort should be made to reflect not only the policy aims but also the practical realities of how the internet works on a technical level,” the report says.
Nick Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister under the previous coalition government, and former leader of the Liberal Democrat party, branded the bill draconian, saying on BBC Radio 4 (via The Guardian), “Very few other countries other than Russia take this dragnet approach.”
Clegg was instrumental in the abandonment of the previous iteration of the Investigatory Powers Bill in 2012 and, despite being out of office now, his position on the proposals have not wavered. “Why there is this great congregation of concern from all wings of political opinion is because what the home office is in essence proposing is that in order to be able to surveil and analyse something they are saying they want to collect everything on everyone,” he added.
“This report shows just how much homework the Government has to do on this landmark legislation. Despite reams of evidence from the Home Office, the Committee finds the case for unprecedented powers to bulk hack, intercept and collect our private data has not been made,” Shami Chakrabarti, Director of human rights group Liberty, said. “The Government needs to pause, take stock and redraft – to do anything else would show astonishing contempt for parliamentarians’ concerns and our national security.”
Image courtesy of Londontopia.