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Surveillance Bill To Include Snoopers’ Charter And More

Aug 1, 2010
In a move that is bound to anger privacy groups, the government has launched plans to unveil a new surveillance bill that will not only include the much maligned and so-called snoopers’ charter but will have a much broader impact on privacy. Critics have said that PM David Cameron is taking advantage of the slender majority government that he secured during the last election, but the Home Office has said that the bill will enable law enforcement to better “meet their key operational requirementsâ€.

The government tried once before to introduce greater powers to monitor and store information on peoples’ online communications and online habits, but the bill did not make it under closer scrutiny. Additional attempts to justify the rules were also publicly discussed, and the PM is known to be a big supporter of the bill, which he says would protect the whole country and would specifically protect vulnerable people that enter into discussions with others online.

The Open Rights Group has been a vociferous campaigner against the rules, and they have said that it would enable the government and agencies like GCHQ, as well as the police, to monitor and track communication and actions taken by anybody, regardless of whether they are engaging in criminal acts or not. They have also said that the collection of what would prove to be huge amounts of data would have huge financial implications, and that the amount of data that would need to be gathered is only likely to increase further.

Precise details of the bill, and specifically of its new content, have not yet been released, but the government has said that it will put measures in place regarding the oversight of powers, therefore ensuring that the new rights are not abused or misused. However, they have not confirmed the details of this oversight. They have also said that it will take into account the findings of David Anderson QC, who compiled a review of the existing counter-terrorism legislation that is currently in force.

Conveniently, the findings of the report were only handed to Downing Street the day before the last general election, and the exact findings and details of the report have yet to be released. These are expected within the next few days, and may pave the way for additional details to be launched.

Big Brother Watch, another group that has been against the introduction of any such law or bill, said that the government may have changed the title so that it is now an investigatory powers’ bill, but that it is questionable that the actual content and the scope of the bill will have changed at all. Renate Samson, the chief executive of the group went on to say “we have yet to see real evidence that there is a gap in the capability of law enforcement or the agencies’ ability to gain access to our communications dataâ€.

The Extremism Bill, immigration bill, and two other bills look to contain details as previously announced, but it is the fact that the snoopers’ charter is likely to have once again reared its head that will cause the most friction and the greatest criticism for the new government.
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