The British government is pushing the Investigatory Powers Bill, or Snoopers’ Charter, that will effectively end internet privacy.
The proposed legislation targets popular chat and message services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and FaceTime, outlaws end-to-end encryption and will force Apple to rewrite its iOS from the ground up to accommodate surveillance by the state. It would also force tech companies to provide backdoors accessible to government.
Additionally, the law requires ISPs to keep records of all internet activity of its customers. The data would be available to the government for a year.
In 2015 the British home secretary Theresa May admitted that a 1983 telecom act permitted bulk retention of data by MI5 and the agency had done so since September 2001.
“The Crown did whatever the Crown felt necessary in the circumstances of the day to secure the state,” said Sir David Omand, the former director of the British surveillance agency GCHQ.
Oman and the British government argue the Investigatory Powers Bill will democratize the process of mass surveillance.
“2016 has to be the year of reconciliation, has to be the year through the medium of this new bill we end up with a social compact in which after extensive public debate we end up with a new democratic license to operate,” Sir David said. “It will be the first time, really, in 500 years that secret intelligence has been brought fully under the rule of law.”
The British push to further open the internet to mass surveillance is one step ahead of a similar effort in America. The Justice Department and the FBI are demanding Apple allow the government to bypass encryption on its devices in response to the San Bernardino terror case.
On Monday federal judge in New York ruled Apple does not have to unlock an iPhone in a drug probe. The ruling may ultimately influence the outcome of a battle waged by the Justice Department against the tech company in the San Bernardino case.
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