Brussels — The United Kingdom today presented the draft Investigatory Powers Bill which raises serious concerns about privacy rights and government surveillance.

The bill will require Internet and social media companies and Internet Access Providers to retain “bulk collection” of large volumes of personal communications data for access by police, security services and other public bodies. Another concern is the expanded reach as the bill would allow the UK Government powers to “interfere with” any computer system, anywhere in the world, which raises questions regarding jurisdiction.

It is however welcome that the UK Government is engaging in open debate and has added measures that could improve legal clarity and increase oversight of its surveillance practices.

The Investigatory Powers Bill is part of a trend towards more surveillance in Europe.  The French government recently presented its Loi de Renseignement which was criticised for its lack of transparency and oversight and allowance of more surveillance of electronic communications.

While European governments are expanding government surveillance, the United States is increasing citizens’ privacy protections and working to amend U.S. privacy laws to include better protections for Europeans, with the House passing the Judicial Redress Act last month.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has been fighting government surveillance and advocating for encryption reforms for more than a decade. The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe Director Christian Borggreen:

“The bill is a setback for privacy rights and part of a worrisome trend towards more governmental surveillance in Europe while the United States is reforming its surveillance practices.”

“It is paradoxical that Europeans pay more attention to U.S. governmental surveillance than the increased surveillance by European governments. Surveillance by any government must limited and be balanced with better oversight and checks and balances.”

 

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