THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced the return of the Snoopers' Charter in the form of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which it describes as "new legislation to modernise the law on communications data".
Outed during the Queen's Speech on Wednesday, the bill, which was blocked last year by the Liberal Democrats, will provide intelligence agencies with the means to "keep you and your family safe", according to the Tories.
The Investigatory Powers Bill will also maintain "the ability of our intelligence agencies to target the online communications of terrorists".
The Queen said during her speech: "Measures will be brought forward to promote social cohesion and protect people by tackling extremism.
"New legislation will modernise the law on communications data and improve the law on policing and criminal justice."
Of course, it isn't all as rosy as it sounds, and it doesn't sound very rosy at all. The bill is far more wide-ranging than expected, and will allow the Tories to strengthen the security services' powers to intercept communications in bulk.
The Government has announced the Investigatory Powers Bill. It would increase police and GCHQ's data collection and retention powers.— Open Rights Group (@OpenRightsGroup) May 27, 2015
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the proposed legislation has been widely criticised.
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said that the bill tramples on citizens' privacy and has implications for the security, or lack thereof, of Britons' personal data.
"The government is signalling that it wants to press ahead with increased powers of data collection and retention for the police and GCHQ, spying on everyone whether suspected of a crime or not," he said.
"This is the return of the Snoopers' Charter, even as the ability to collect and retain data gets less and less workable.
"We should expect attacks on encryption, which protects all our security. Data collection will create vast and unnecessary expense."
Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch, added: "Whilst the title may have changed from a communications data bill to an investigatory powers bill, it will be interesting to see whether the content has radically changed.
"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 data."
The interim leader of the UK Pirate Party, George Walkden, said that this is another example of an official attempt to weaken citizen rights and civil liberties.
"The Pirate Party will oppose them every step of the way. The innocent-sounding phrase 'New legislation will modernise the law on communications data' heralds the return of the Snoopers' Charter, and the Pirate Party will once again fight against this unprecedented attack on our privacy," he said. µ
We should be shocked, but...
But the search giant has now squashed the bug
But it's not yet available here in Blighty