The Investigatory Powers Bill will get royal assent on Tuesday. More than 130,000 people have signed a petition calling for it to be scrapped.
Tim Berners-Lee has said it creates a “security nightmare“.
‘Snoopers law creates security nightmare’
As the Investigatory Powers Bill gets royal assent, the web’s inventor fears our net histories will be hacked.
Edward Snowden has described it as the most extreme surveillance in the history of Western democracy.
But soon records of every website and messaging service UK-based citizens visit from any device will be retained for a year by communications companies.
So, all of those protests will have been in vain.
The petition in particular comes much too late, having been started after the bill had passed through all of its parliamentary stages.
The fact that it has attracted more than 100,000 signatures means that it will get debated in Parliament – but there seems little chance of ministers taking any more notice than they did of the call for an exploration vessel to be named Boaty McBoatface.
The question is why the bill sailed through with very little opposition, apart from that of the Liberal Democrats and a few questions from peers. It seems that privacy campaigners, the internet service providers (ISPs) and the wider technology industry failed to get politicians to share their concerns.
The inventor of the world wide web answered three questions about the new law.
This snoopers charter has no place in a modern democracy – it undermines our fundamental rights online. 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.
You previously tweeted “dark, dark days” about the bill passing. But early in November you told the Today Programme: “I feel it’s important that we strengthen the accountability provisions.” Was that strong enough – and do you regret not shouting louder?
Well, there’s been sustained opposition to the Bill at almost every stage of its development. I spoke out about it strongly when it was first floated in May 2015, and as the Bill went through parliament, technology businesses united in opposition to it, civil society (including the Web Foundation) was strongly critical and a number of committees tasked with reviewing the Bill made sweeping criticisms.
So yes, now that the Bill has passed, I am left wondering what more I could have done personally, but government does seem to have been determined to railroad the Bill through, despite opposition from many diverse quarters.
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.
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.
However, public outrage and legal challenges are building around the Bill, meaning the story isn’t over yet. 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.