I just finished watching the latest season of Black Mirror, and I can’t help but see the eerie similarities between the show and our world, and the surveillance law that was just passed in the UK is proof of that. Dubbed the snoopers’ charter, the new law will make it obligatory for internet providers to store every user’s history for up to a year, which can be accessed by government entities and decrypted on demand. See what I mean now?
The bill was first introduced back in 2012 by Theresa May herself when she was the country’s home secretary. It was first blocked by the former deputy PM Nick Clegg, who labeled it a dangerous bill, which could demand “potentially limitless categories of data.” Fast forward to today: Theresa May is now UK’s PM, and the bill was finalized and passed by both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Essentially, under the new law, UK internet providers will be obligated to store every user’s web history for up to a year, data that can be decrypted and accessed by gubernatorial entities on demand. Not only that, the law will allow for intelligence agencies to hack into electronic devices of citizens. In case you don’t remember, we saw a similar situation in the US with the San Bernardino shooting when the FBI demanded that Apple unlock the shooter’s iPhone and Apple refused. Well, under this law, that whole dispute on security, privacy, and ethics wouldn’t even exist in the first place.
UK internet providers will be obligated to store every user’s web history for up to a year, data that can be decrypted and accessed by gubernatorial entities on demand. Not only that, the law will allow for intelligence agencies to hack into electronic devices of citizens.
Of course, the bill has faced a lot of opposition and is still being criticized for its potential to encourage mass government-sponsored espionage. The UN has expressed its concerns already as well as a slew of other privacy and rights groups as well as some Silicon Valley companies. However, the UK government doesn’t seem to be deterred by all this: in asserting that the new law is simply a modified version of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, it has been trying to downplay the public worries, but ironically, even the RIPA was a shocking revelation of the government’s intrusive surveillance of its citizens.
It seems like whether it’s the US or the UK, with right-wing nationalism on the rise, government surveillance is set to increase. Be smart about what you search out there – and on a lighter note, if you haven’t already, give Black Mirror a try.