We’re slowly hearing more about the British Government’s new surveillance bill ahead of its introduction to the Commons next Wednesday.
The latest report comes via The Telegraph, which claims that British police will be granted powers to view Britons’ web histories, under the bill.
ISPs will be required to store their customers’ browsing histories for a full year, to be surrendered to authorities on request, the report says.
The Times spoke to Richard Berry, a spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council about the proposals. He said that “safeguards” such as the need for a warrant would be in place if police want to seek access to messages on social media and internet search histories — another area that the police are seeking access to.
It’s not immediately clear whether any similar safeguards will exist for accessing web users’ internet histories.
There have previously been reports that the forthcoming surveillance bill will provide a legal framework to let British spies hack into peoples’ devices. British spies have carried out hacks before to obtain information, but arguably on shaky legal territory. Previously, the legality of such approaches was based on the Intelligence Services Act, passed in 1994, which only talks in general terms about “property” and does not mention computers, according to The Times.
The proposed legislation has come under fire from rights campaigners. Jim Killock, executive director of digital civil liberties organisation Open Rights Group, said that “this would be a massive extension of police powers. Our web browsing histories can reveal very personal details about our lives, such as our political views, sexuality and health concerns. It is highly intrusive for this data to be retained just in case we commit a crime in the future. Surveillance should be targeted at those who are under suspicion of committing a crime.”
“Last year the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that blanket data retention interfered with our rights to private life and to the protection of personal data. Knowing that everything we do on the Internet is being retained will also chill free speech.”