Over 100 technology firms, government agencies and privacy groups have produced official written submissions to the UK government in relation to the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as the Snoopers' Charter.
From social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, to the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), every group has shared the positives and negatives of the surveillance bill.
V3 has picked out some of the key submissions, but you can view the entire mass of submissions on the UK parliament website.
Under the proposals, every major telecoms firm would have to store customer data, including calls and internet records, for 12 months.
However, the firm questioned the wisdom of this, noting that it would both affect user trust in the brand, and create major technological complications
"Trust is the bedrock of our business and our business model, which means that respect for our customers' privacy is paramount and needs to remain so," the firm said in its written submission.
"If network operators were required to obtain and retain data, this would mean installing a complex new array of technology, requiring us to build systems to capture data for which we have no business purpose."
Vodafone complained particularly about having to retain Internet Connection Records (ICRs). "Much of the public debate of the draft bill has focused on the issue of ICRs. A key problem is that these so-called 'records' do not currently exist," the firm said.
It was estimated in one scrutiny session that holding these ICRs could cost the taxpayer over £17m a year. Vodafone argued that these costs should fall on the government.
"The full cost of surveillance assistance by communication service providers should be borne by the government as it is fulfilling the state's duty to protect citizens, and is otherwise an interference with the lawful use by a communications service provider of its assets and property," Vodafone said.
EE is another service provider facing a potential shake-up if the surveillance bill is passed. The firm said in its written submission that existing legislation for data retention has fallen behind as technology has advanced, and that the laws governing the internet are "becoming less valid in the internet age".
"In light of Edward Snowden's revelations, and the subsequent public concerns, together with the huge and rapid advances in technology, EE believes that the wholesale review of legislation, resulting in the publication of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, has been essential," the company said.
But EE said that, despite Home Office assurances, the draft bill still lacks "crucial details" that the firm needs to access the business impact of the proposals.
"A general view from industry is that the estimated costs provided by the Home Office have yet to be fully validated, and there is some concern that this figure may underestimate the actual future costs," EE said.
"Although EE understands the need to maintain capability to prevent and detect crime and save lives, the new powers under the draft bill place increased responsibility and liability on UK telecoms operators.
"There will be increased regulatory burdens beyond current legal obligations, together with increased demands and disclosure volumes. Customer trust is central to our business. It is therefore incumbent on the government to do all it can to explain to the public why it feels these powers are necessary."
Amnesty International UK
Amnesty International has long campaigned about threats to privacy and liberty, especially since the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013 that revealed the true scope of spying by intelligence agencies in the US and the UK.
Amnesty said in its submission that the group is "disappointed" to be given such a short time to process the surveillance proposals. "Our view is that this is woefully inadequate time for a bill of this level of complexity and length. It raises serious questions about the much vaunted government commitment to openness in this difficult sphere," it said.
Amnesty added that there is "no question" that the interception proposals threaten human rights: "The interception, analysis or other use of communications in a manner that is neither targeted nor based on a reasonable suspicion that an individual or specific location is sufficiently closely linked to conduct that must legitimately be prevented is disproportionate."
Crown Prosecution Service
It is perhaps of little surprise that the CPS is in support of the bill. The organisation said in its submission that communications data is used as evidence in 95 percent of serious and organised crime prosecutions.
"Communications data in particular is an essential form of evidence currently provided for under the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014. It has played a significant role in every security service counter-terrorism operation over the last decade," the CPS said.
"Communications data and equipment interference material can be used evidentially in criminal cases and have already often contributed to securing convictions across the full spectrum of offences, including terrorism, serious and organised crime, child sexual abuse, murder, rape, harassment and domestic abuse.
"It is not an exaggeration to state that without these powers our capability to prosecute in these cases would be significantly reduced."
Law Society of England and Wales
The Law Society of England and Wales' submission to the government stressed the importance of legal professional privilege (LPP) for protecting clients. "It is over 500 years old and is an essential element of the administration of the justice system in the UK," it said.
"LPP is recognised as a fundamental common law right, a human right protected by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Fair Trials) and Article 8 (Privacy). It is also protected under the law of the European Union.
"The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, along with the existing Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, is unique in failing to recognise the supremacy of LPP and to accord it appropriate protection."
Helsinki-based security firm F-Secure was one of many firms to give evidence to the select committee scrutinising the Snoopers' Charter. Erka Koivunen, a cyber security advisor at the firm, likened the bill to a GCHQ Christmas wish-list.
F-Secure said in its written submission: "The proposed Investigatory Powers Bill is a clear statement of intent on behalf of the British government to engage in activities that many foreign businesses and non-nationals would regard as a threat to their cyber security and privacy worth protecting against."
The security firm has also taken issue with the term ‘communications service provider' (CSP). "The term has been used throughout the committee hearings [but] is nowhere to be found in the draft bill itself," the company said.
"Instead, the term ‘telecommunications operator' is used. In our understanding, ‘telecommunications operator' is a much narrower term than what is implied by CSP in the guide.
"The vague nature of the definition of CSPs means that F-Secure has difficulty in establishing whether the bill would introduce new obligations on us as a company.
"As a foreign technology company (which most technology companies are to Britain), further information and greater clarity would be needed as to the applicability of the law on services that our industry provides."
National Police Chiefs Council, HMRC, National Crime Agency
The National Police Chiefs Council, HM Revenue and Customs and the NCA banded together to support the bill and to deny that the proposals are designed to allow mass snooping.
"The Investigatory Powers Bill does not permit law enforcement to conduct ‘bulk' interception. All lawful interception is tightly targeted and provides law enforcement with significant operational benefits," the organisations said.
"It is used as a source of intelligence which assists in identifying and disrupting threats from terrorism and serious crime. It supports the gathering of evidence and identification of opportunities, where it meets the necessity and proportionality thresholds."
The submission also said that the lack of online borders continues to change how the organisations combat crime.
"Individuals are able to contact people all over the world in milliseconds, for no additional cost on multiple platforms. This advantage also extends to criminal use where connections are made where they wouldn't have been before. It also means that services are provided to UK customers from all over the world," it said.
"The services cited as the most used by internet users, such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook etc, are predominantly based in the US, creating challenges between domestic and international legislation."
Perhaps worryingly, the collective believes that the bill does not introduce many new powers. "The only change is the requirement for CSPs to retain more information on their customers' use of their services (Internet Connection Records) and provides a statutory footing for law enforcement to request this data under specific, targeted circumstances."
Despite these claims, a number of technology firms do not share the view that the collection of records will be easy.
Most recently, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo criticised several aspects of the proposed bill, warning that user trust, information security and the privacy of the public will be at risk if the law is introduced as currently written.
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