Bill re­quir­ing firms to store Web his­to­ries be­comes law

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

LON­DON (AP): A CON­TENTIOUS In­ter­net sur­veil­lance bill that cre­ates data­bases of Bri­tons’ on­line ac­tiv­ity has be­come law – though the gov­ern­ment says some of its pro­vi­sions still need “ex­ten­sive test­ing” be­fore tak­ing ef­fect.

House of Com­mons Speaker John Ber­cow told law­mak­ers yes­ter­day that the In­ves­ti­ga­tory Pow­ers Bill had re­ceived royal as­sent, the last for­mal­ity to be­com­ing law. It was passed by Parliament ear­lier this month, af­ter a year of ar­gu­ment and amend­ments.

Civil-lib­er­ties groups have con­demned the bill, which re­quires tele­coms com­pa­nies to keep cus­tomers’ brows­ing his­to­ries for a year. The in­for­ma­tion in­cludes the web­sites users vis­ited and the apps and mes­sag­ing ser­vices they used, though not the in­di­vid­ual pages they looked at or the mes­sages they sent.

The data will be ac­ces­si­ble by the police and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, rev­enue and cus­toms of­fi­cials, and even the Food Stan­dards Agency.

Jim Kil­lock, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of dig­i­tal free­dom or­gan­i­sa­tion the Open Rights Group, said the leg­is­la­tion was “one of the most ex­treme sur­veil­lance laws ever passed in a democ­racy.

.The Home Of­fice said the law gives au­thor­i­ties the pow­ers needed to disrupt ter­ror­ist attacks, and has strong pri­vacy pro­tec­tions built in.

But In­ter­net ser­vice providers are con­cerned that the data­bases of in­for­ma­tion could be vul­ner­a­ble to leaks and hack­ers.

James Bless­ing, chair­man of the In­ter­net Ser­vices Providers As­so­ci­a­tion, said the in­dus­try has “sig­nif­i­cant ques­tions” on how the law will work.

The Home Of­fice said some pro­vi­sions in the new law “will re­quire ex­ten­sive test­ing and will not be in place for some time”.

It said the new rules “will be sub­ject to de­tailed con­sul­ta­tion with in­dus­try and op­er­a­tional part­ners”.

Civil-lib­er­ties groups have con­demned the bill, which re­quires tele­coms com­pa­nies to keep cus­tomers’ brows­ing his­to­ries for a year.

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