By Declan Dunn, TechViews.org …..
England’s Queen Elizabeth II just approved a highly controversial piece of legislation from Parliament that gives British intelligence agencies the legal right to conduct mass surveillance on people in the UK.
The legislation, known as The Investigatory Powers Bill (or IP Bill), was passed by Parliament on November 19 according to The Guardian.
After the legislation was approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”
But the IP Bill wasn’t complete until it gained the signature of the UK’s constitutional monarch in a formality known as the ‘Royal Assent’.
The law, pushed through Parliament by current Prime Minister Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, makes it legal for UK intelligence agencies to “hack, read, and store any information from any citizen’s computer or phone, even if that citizen is completely innocent”.
New Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in a statement:
“This Government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe.
“The internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge. But it is also right that these powers are subject to strict safeguards and rigorous oversight.
“The Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation that provides unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection.
“I want to pay tribute to the independent reviewers, organizations, and Parliamentarians of all parties for their rigorous scrutiny of this important law which is vital for the safety and security of our families, communities and country.”
A petition to repeal strict new UK surveillance laws has received over 100,000 votes.
People working across the UK technology industry have been urging others to sign the petition. For example, Nando de Freitas, a scientist at Google DeepMind and a professor at Oxford University, wrote on Twitter: “If you care about big brother surveillance and the erosion of privacy and human dignity, please re-tweet this. Thanks”
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