Friday

22nd Jun 2018

UK confirms it bulk-collected nationals' data

  • UK has been snooping on its own citizens since 2001 (Photo: Theen Moy)

UK authorities on Wednesday (4 November) confirmed British intelligence has been secretly scooping up the emails and telephone records of its own citizens for the past 15 years.

The admission, made by UK’s home secretary Theresa May, came amid a ministerial debate on a new draft UK surveillance bill that gives police and intelligence access to websites visited by people without the need for a warrant.

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It was revealed British governments had been giving “secret directions” that required Internet firms to hand over communication data of citizens to UK security agencies such as MI5, reports The Guardian.

May said the new bill is needed to provide a legal basis for surveillance in the larger effort to fight crime and terrorism. She said the law contains oversight provisions to prevent abuse.

“This will ensure that the people who are keeping us safe will have the powers they need but will also have the right oversight arrangements”, she said.

A panel of judges would be given the powers to block spying operations.

But the bill includes proposals that would allow the state to infiltrate devices and sweep up large amounts of data, in moves described by civil liberty defenders as state-sanctioned mass surveillance.

The proposed law would also force Internet firms to help hack phones and other devices.

Police would be able to see websites visited by British citizens, but not the pages viewed or links clicked. May described the web records as the equivalent of an itemised phone bill.

Similar state-sanctioned access powers are banned in Europe and the United States.

Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden described in a tweet the UK bill as legitimising mass snooping.

“By my read, #SnoopersCharter legitimizes mass surveillance. It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West”, he said.

He also dismissed May’s itemised phone bill reference.

He said storing Internet connection records is more like “a list of every book you’ve ever opened."

French court backs mass surveillance

France's top court has given the green light for security services to hack people's computers and phones even if they aren't suspected of any crime.

Investigation

UK unlawfully copying data from EU police system

The British government is abusing EU travel security systems, making and using illegal copies of outdated information, and putting innocent people at risk of being red-flagged.

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

The new EU privacy rules are touted as a global 'gold standard' - but Mexico's former data commissioner warns some nations are far from ready.

New GDPR enforcer says complaints imminent

The European Data Protection Board is a new EU body tasked with enforcing the EU's privacy laws with powers to impose massive fines. Its head Andrea Jelinek told reporters complaints against companies are expected to be immediate.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

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