REMEMBER THE IRON LADY? Well, never mind the milk, here comes the privacy snatcher. Theresa May has somehow been made the new leader of the Conservative Party and will, therefore, become the next prime minister of the UK.
This is a blow for privacy. May, in case you have forgotten, is the source of much talk about UK laws on surveillance and privacy erosion that we have covered in the past few years.
She is to privacy what a foot is to your front door, and has passionately pursued a more pervasive lack of it for as long as we have been writing about her.
May will become prime minister in the fallout of the Brexit vote which cost the UK David Cameron and plunged us into a situation in which a television buffoon might have been running the country. The appointment, which happened without a public vote, but still decided a nation's leader, has met with some opposition.
Loz Kaye, co-founder of the Open Intelligence think tank, painted a bleak picture of our future in May's hands and a particularly tough ride for technology.
"Prime minister May is bad news for technology, business and rights in the UK. The progress of the Investigatory Powers Bill shows she has simply not been interested in the objections and practical advice of tech experts," he said.
"Her pet project risks saddling British communications service providers with a burden running into billions of pounds. These are not good qualities for our country's leader.
"The Investigatory Powers Bill will now become a test of will and of loyalty to a new Conservative administration. We face the worst possible constellation of circumstances on the surveillance issue.
"May is leader, the Labour Party is in disarray and the NGOs have been utterly incapable of mounting an effective campaign on the Snoopers' Charter."
Twitter and the internet have given May a non-heroic mention, and the papers seem to focus on her shoes. She has reportedly changed tack on some of her previous policies, but it appears that she is still struggling to find direction, even when it comes to which car she is supposed to be driven around in.
Theresa May leaves Number 10, walks to the wrong car and takes time to give a wave from the doorstep. pic.twitter.com/QN8xN4TYfY— Scott D'Arcy (@DArcysj) July 12, 2016
Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group, suggested that May's tenure as home secretary did nothing positive for digital rights.
"As home secretary, May was not a champion of digital rights. Her attempt to pass the first Snoopers' Charter was thwarted by the Liberal Democrats in 2012. She oversaw the rushing of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act through Parliament in a week, preventing proper public and parliamentary scrutiny," he said.
"Last year, she introduced her second attempt at the Snoopers' Charter, the Investigatory Powers Bill, which is currently going through Parliament. If the bill is passed in its current state, May will have been the architect behind one of the most extreme surveillance laws found in a democracy."
Killock also raised concerns for the future, saying that May could go even further.
"Now that she is prime minister, there are two areas of concern. May has said she will not press forward with previous plans to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights because of a lack of parliamentary support," he said.
"However, she could still change or replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, potentially weakening British citizens' rights.
"Secondly, the approach she takes to Brexit will have a huge impact on digital rights in the UK, which are dependent on many EU laws on issues such as data protection, e-privacy, net neutrality and copyright.
"If these laws are to be replaced by national legislation, we will need to ensure that our rights are protected. There could be a danger of swift deregulation, or a review of laws that involves little democratic input, because of the sheer volume of legislation that must be examined, if we leave EU legal frameworks."
There have been calls for a General Election. This is probably the last thing that 2016 needs, but it may be just what the internet needs. µ
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