Privacy groups have criticised the government for passing the "draconian" Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill), warning that it will see the little protection British people have over their personal data being further diminished.
The IP Bill was passed by the House of Lords this week following a final debate examining various amendments, and will therefore become law within weeks.
This law will require that ISPs store comprehensive records of websites visited and phone numbers called for 12 months, and enable police, security services and multiple other public sector bodies to access this data on demand.
It will also provide the security services with the legal power to bulk collect personal communications data, and give police and security services the explicit power to hack into, and bug, computers and smartphones. These powers will largely require only the approval of the home secretary.
It's perhaps no surprise that privacy campaigners, including the Open Rights Group (ORG) and Privacy International, have been quick to speak out on the passing of the bill.
Jim Killock, executive director of the ORG, warned that, while bad news for Brits' privacy, the IP Bill will also see other countries move to shore up their own surveillance powers.
"The passing of the IP Bill will have an impact that goes beyond the UK's shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers," he said.
"The IP Bill will put into statute the powers and capabilities revealed by Snowden as well as increasing surveillance by the police and other government departments.
"There will continue to be a lack of privacy protections for international data sharing arrangements with the US. Parliament has also failed to address the implications of the technical integration of GCHQ and the NSA."
However, Killock noted that, given the severity of these planned surveillance powers, some aspects of the Bill may be ruled as unlawful next year, resulting in amendments to the so-called Snoopers' Charter.
"While parliamentarians have failed to limit these powers, the courts may succeed. A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union expected next year may mean that parts of the Bill are shown to be unlawful and need to be amended," he said. "ORG and others will continue to fight this draconian law."
Harmit Kambo, campaigns director at Privacy International, has also spoken out, saying that, while the government has made promises about how these new surveillance powers will be constrained, the passing of the IP Bill will inevitably see individuals' privacy rights eroded over time.
"As the IP Bill becomes law, the government continues to reassure us that their powers will be constrained by a robust legal framework and safeguards," Kambo said.
"More fundamentally, they have argued that it's OK for a mature democracy to have sweeping surveillance powers because a mature democracy has enough checks and balances to prevent state surveillance becoming about state power over all of us.
"But we will always argue that you don't pass laws based on what the government of today intends to do with those powers, but on how a very different government of tomorrow might use those same powers to go so much further.
"If that sounds paranoid, you only have to look at the convulsions that our democracies are facing. Brexit is going to mean that we may have much lower data protection in the UK in the future, very possibly accompanied by us exiting the European Convention on Human Rights. What little protection we already have over our personal data will be further diminished."
Kambo, like Killock, also raised the potential international implications of the IP Bill, warning that Donald Trump is likely to be rubbing his hands together at the surveillance "machine" that the UK government has created.
"We have the Special Relationship with the US. Our relationship with them is at its most special when you look at how our surveillance agencies, in particular the UK's GCHQ and the US' NSA, work so closely together," he said.
"What will that mean once Donald Trump has the NSA under his control? Referring to the hack of the Democratic National Committee's emails, he commented: 'I wish I had that power. Man, that would be power.'
"So, when the UK government reassures us that their surveillance machine is under control, we must remember that not only are our protections fast diminishing, but our closest political ally may have ambitious and dangerous plans for this machine that has been created."
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