The draft Investigatory Powers Bill has been released into the wild, explaining the potential vast expansion of snooping powers that will be available to the police and intelligence agencies. But what was the reaction to the proposed legislation?
V3 has brought together the initial reactions of politicians, campaigners, civil liberty groups and social media to judge how well received the bill has been so far.
"Today, we are setting out a modern legal framework which brings together current powers in a clear and comprehensible way," she said.
"A new bill that provides some of the strongest protections and safeguards anywhere in the democratic world. And an approach that sets new standards for openness, transparency and oversight."
David Davis MP
Vocal libertarian and Conservative MP David Davis has long been critical of the government's stance on snooping. Alongside Labour MP Tom Watson he has even challenged UK surveillance laws in the High Court.
As such he voiced some concerns with the Bill, including the provisions for whistleblowers: "MPs are protected from interception warrants but their communications data has no such protection, leaving whistleblowers vulnerable."
Davis also highlighted problems with the judiciary oversight described in the bill when issuing surveillance warrants.
"The home secretary would have to behave in an extraordinary manner not to get his or her warrant approved. This is not the judge checking the evidence; it is the judge checking that the correct procedure has been followed. This is not quite the protection it was represented as," he added.
David Anderson QC
The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and author of the much-cited A Question of Trust report, acknowledged that not everyone will be happy about these powers.
"It will now be for parliament to decide whether they are justified. That is the way things should be in a democracy but rarely are at the moment anywhere in the world. Whatever the content of the eventual UK law, it will no longer be possible to describe it as opaque, incomprehensible or misleading," he explained.
Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that the bill appeared to be a vast improvement over the stalled Communications Data Bill from 2012.
"I strongly welcome what looks like a more proportionate and targeted approach," he said, referring to web history data access. However, he added that the "devil is in the detail" when it comes to assessing whether the bill in its first form will be acceptable or contains similar flaws to others put forward.
Campaign group Liberty branded the bill an "astonishing assault" on internet security in the UK.
"This bill is a once in a generation chance to shape our surveillance laws so they keep us safe and respect our privacy. We won't let the government squander this opportunity and we know that you won't either," the organisation said.
Liberty has now released a full analysis of the bill.
Big Brother Watch
Surveillance campaign group Big Brother Watch noted that the bill will give the UK government vastly extended spying powers.
"Requests for retention of internet connection records will provide access to the most detailed data on citizens, not just the who and when of a telephone record, but the what and how of the way we live our lives. The guarantee of security to this retained data will be critical," the group said.
Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch, added: "Demands on technology companies to adhere to warrants for encrypted data, as well as the power to legally hack into our devices, could create legislative back doors which in a world of increased cyber attack could make us more vulnerable to crime."
The UK human rights organisation argued that it is disingenuous for the government to say that the bill does not contain new powers.
"Existing law does not permit the government to hack into our computers and retain records of all our internet communications. No other government in the world has legislated for bulk hacking. No other government has legislated to retain all our internet records. Other governments around the world will follow the UK's lead. Britain must not send them in the wrong direction," it said.
The former NSA contractor wrote on Twitter: "There's a dark irony to Theresa May's admission today that the UK has secretly engaged in domestic mass surveillance since 1984."
The problem with the new #SnoopersCharter is trying to fit the law around the spying, rather than making spying fit the law. It's backwards.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 4, 2015
Snowden has become an avid user of Twitter while residing in Russia, and has been a consistent opponent of the UK government's snooping plans.
By my read, #SnoopersCharter legitimizes mass surveillance. It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 4, 2015
Jimmy Wales has previously spoken out against government plans to weaken encryption, and took to Twitter to give Apple some advice on how to act should the bill become law.
I would like to see Apple refuse to sell iPhone in UK if gov't bans end-to-end encryption. Does Parliament dare be that stupid?— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) November 3, 2015
Social media, and especially Twitter, has given everyone a voice. Some use it to talk about cats, others to complain about governments. The latter was especially true with regard to the Investigatory Powers Bill.
A security arms race is under way and your personal information is just collateral damage - another freedom eroded #IPBill— according to GARP (@grahamarpark) November 5, 2015
Oddly, the government having absolute access to all my personal communications doesn't make me feel more secure. Quite the opposite #IPBill— Sam (@scarlile90) November 5, 2015
Snooper's Charter comes down to two things. It won't stop criminals and terrorists and it will harm innocent people. #IPBill— Preston J. Byrne (@prestonjbyrne) November 5, 2015
If you want to know more, V3 has compiled a guide to the draft Investigatory Powers Bill.
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