Originally published by Mashable, 18th February 2017
By Gianluca Mezzofiore
From the moment you set foot on British soil, your personal data could easily be accessed, or even hacked, by the government.
New invasive legislation has been dubbed by critics as one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy.
The Snoopers’ Charter — aka the Investigatory Powers Act — was passed into law at the end of last year. It arguably removes your right to online privacy.
In short, it forces internet companies to keep bulk records of all the websites you visit for up to a year and allows the UK government to coerce tech companies to hand over your web history with a retention notice and remove encryption, upon request.
If you think all of this sounds rather alarming, it’s because it is.
So what happens if you’re an unsuspecting visitor blissfully unaware of mass surveillance in the UK? Here’s a provisional guide:
I utterly condemn the UK coalition government’s use of emergency powers to rush through parliament the new, controversial Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill.
I condemn the intentionally undemocratic method by which the snooping bill is being passed, by staging a “theatrical emergency” to rush it through parliament thus avoiding its scrutiny and any public debate. There is no emergency. The British government is using emergency powers disingenuously to hide months of secret, back room talks since April when the European Court of Justice ruled that such data retention violates our basic rights to privacy and personal data protection. I entirely condemn the response of the British government to that ruling, which seems to be to undermine the democratic process in addition to violating our rights.
In addition to falsely claiming that the country is facing an emergency, the British government is using misleading rhetoric about what the data retention law actually means for the public. In his announcement on Thursday, 10 July 14, Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that without this bill the country would “leave a means of communication for paedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals to communicate with each other that, in extremis, we cannot intercept”. Whilst we are all keen to see such serious criminals brought to justice, Mr Cameron’s statement is misleading on two counts. Firstly, the Prime Minister is using emotional rhetoric around paedophilia and terrorism to justify a law that will in fact collect private data of the entire British public – not suspects of serious crime. This rhetoric is exploitative and offensive. Secondly, law enforcement agencies already possess the capability to conduct extensive and forensic surveillance, even retrospectively, once a warrant has been sought.
I would urge concerned citizens to lobby their MP to reject this bill by email, phone and on social media, urgently.
You can easily email your MP via the Open Rights Group’s campaign page https://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/no-emergency-stop-the-data-retention-stitch-up
If you wish to email your MP directly, you can find their contact details here: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/
This is my letter to my MP.