Sweep­ing UK spy bill dubbed ‘snoop­ers’ char­ter’ be­comes law

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

LON­DON (AP): IN BRI­TAIN, Big Brother just got big­ger.

Af­ter months of wran­gling, Par­lia­ment has passed a con­tentious new snoop­ing law that gives au­thor­i­ties – from po­lice and spies to food reg­u­la­tors, fire of­fi­cials and tax in­spec­tors – pow­ers to look at the In­ter­net-brows­ing records of ev­ery­one in the coun­try.

The law re­quires tele­coms com­pa­nies to keep records of all users’ web ac­tiv­ity for a year, cre­at­ing data­bases of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that the firms worry could be vul­ner­a­ble to leaks and hack­ers.

Civil lib­er­ties groups say the law es­tab­lishes mass sur­veil­lance of Bri­tish citizens, fol­low­ing in­no­cent In­ter­net users from the of­fice to the liv­ing room and the bed­room.

Tim Bern­ers-Lee, the com­puter sci­en­tist cred­ited with in­vent­ing the World Wide Web, tweeted news of the law’s pas­sage with the words: “Dark, dark days”.

BIG QUES­TIONS

The In­ves­ti­ga­tory Pow­ers Bill – dubbed the “snoop­ers’ char­ter” by crit­ics – was passed by Par­lia­ment this month af­ter more than a year of de­bate and amend­ments. It will be­come law when it re­ceives the for­mal­ity of royal as­sent next week. But big ques­tions re­main about how it will work, and the gov­ern­ment ac­knowl­edges it could be 12 months before In­ter­net firms have to start stor­ing the records.

“It won’t hap­pen in a big bang next week,” Home Of­fice of­fi­cial Chris Mills told a meet­ing of In­ter­net ser­vice providers last Thurs­day. “It will be a phased pro­gramme of the in­tro­duc­tion of the mea­sures over a year or so.”

The gov­ern­ment says the new law “en­sures pow­ers are fit for the dig­i­tal age”, re­plac­ing a patch­work of of­ten out­dated rules and giv­ing law-en­force­ment agen­cies the tools to fight ter­ror­ism and se­ri­ous crime.

In a move taken by few other na­tions, it re­quires telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies to store for a year the web his­to­ries known as In­ter­net con­nec­tion records – a list of web­sites each per­son has vis­ited and the apps and mes­sag­ing ser­vices they used, though not the in­di­vid­ual pages they looked at or the mes­sages they sent.

The gov­ern­ment has called that in­for­ma­tion the mod­ern equiv­a­lent of an itemised phone bill. But crit­ics say it’s more like a per­sonal di­ary.

INTRUSIVE DATABASE

Ju­lian Hup­pert, a for­mer Lib­eral Demo­crat law­maker who op­posed the bill, said it “cre­ates a very intrusive database.”

“Peo­ple may have been to the De­pres­sion Al­liance web­site, or a mar­riage guid­ance web­site, or an abor­tion provider’s web­site, or all sorts of things which are very per­sonal and pri­vate,” he said.

Of­fi­cials won’t need a war­rant to ac­cess the data, and the list of bod­ies that can see it in­cludes not just the po­lice and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, but gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, rev­enue and cus­toms of­fi­cials and even the Food Stan­dards Agency.

“My worry is partly about their ac­cess,” Hup­pert said. “But it’s much more deeply about the prospects for ei­ther hack­ing or peo­ple sell­ing in­for­ma­tion on.” CAIRO (AP): EGYPT’S FOR­EIGN Min­istry has de­nied what it said were Arab me­dia re­ports about an Egyp­tian mil­i­tary pres­ence in Syria.

Egypt is com­mit­ted to not in­ter­ven­ing in other coun­tries’ in­ter­nal af­fairs, the min­istry’s Sun­day state­ment said, adding that de­ploy­ing any mil­i­tary per­son­nel or equip­ment would have re­quired pub­lic le­gal mea­sures.

The min­istry’s state­ment didn’t spec­ify out­lets, but most re­gional me­dia car­ry­ing the story re­ferred to a re­port by Le­banese daily AsSafir, which said that an Egyp­tian mil­i­tary unit com­pris­ing 18 pi­lots had joined an air base in Hama ear­lier this month.

Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­delFat­tah el-Sissi has ex­pressed sup­port for Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s mil­i­tary, say­ing, this month in an in­ter­view with Por­tuguese TV net­work RTP, that its forces were “best po­si­tioned” to com­bat ter­ror­ism and re­store sta­bil­ity in the war-torn na­tion.

FIDEL CAS­TRO

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.