The Queen has passed a highly controversial piece of legislation that gives British intelligence agencies the legal right to conduct mass surveillance on people in the UK.
The legislation will be coming into force in 2017.
The Investigatory Powers Bill (or IP Bill), as the legislation is known, was passed by Parliament on November 19 “with barely a whimper,” 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 legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”
But the Bill wasn’t home and dry. It also needed to gain the approval of the country’s constitutional monarch — the Queen — in a formality known as the Royal Assent.
To the disappointment of all those who signed a petition to repeal the IP Bill, also known as the Snopper’s Charter, the Queen approved the bill on Tuesday, according to a Home Office press release that was tweeted by Wired’s Matt Burgess.
The law, pushed through Parliament by 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.
Rafael Laguna, CEO at software firm Open-Xchange, said in a statement: “The Snoopers’ Charter is an excessive measure drawn-up by a government which has not consulted the tech community. Realistically, the only major effect the IP Bill will have is invading citizens’ privacy. Criminals and terrorists will only find other ways to communicate discretely.”
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