Snooper’s Charter back on the agenda, after UK election

Graham Cluley

David CameronLast week, the UK voted the Conservative party back into power with (to many people’s surprise) a majority in the House of Commons.

That means they no longer need the support of the Liberal Democrats, whose MPs were culled to such an extent that they can now all fit in a couple of London taxi cabs with room to spare.

What does that mean for computer security and privacy? Well, potentially quite a lot.

Because it was the Liberal Democrats who had been putting the kibosh on the so-called “Snooper’s Charter” (also known as the Communications Data Bill) which would mean the detailed metadata of every email, social media interaction and website visit would be recorded.

But all that’s changed now. The Lib Dems are irrelevant, and David Cameron’s Conservative government feels it has been given a mandate to proceed with the bill which would see British ISPs storing huge amounts of data about customers’ activity, and forced to share it with the authorities.

Once in place, the Snooper’s Charter would mean that police would not have to seek permission to access details of your online communications, if investigating a crime.

Theresa MayTheresa May has been reappointed Home Secretary by Cameron, and once again she will be pushing hard for the bill to be introduced.

And although the likes of the Scottish National Party (SNP), who saw phenomenal election success with 56 new MPs arriving at Westminster, say they hope to join forces with Tory rebels to prevent its introduction, one has to wonder what realistic chances there are for the Snooper’s Charter to be derailed.

Which is bad news for those who value our privacy, and believe that occasional terrorist acts are an acceptable cost if we want to keep our personal freedom and liberty.

My advice? If you haven’t done so already, start thinking now about how you can keep your online activity private.

Get a VPN to disguise what websites you are visiting from your ISP, and read up on the secure messaging apps that do the most to protect your private communications from snoopers.

For more advice, check out the great guide from the EFF about surveillance self defence.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

3 Replies to “Snooper’s Charter back on the agenda, after UK election”

  1. it looks like UK is moving far away once more from the rest of europe. While in europe privacy is consider an important matter, it seems that UK is moving toward the lowest privacy standards as in USA, China, North Korea, Emirates and so on.
    And the references are not a coincidence.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write this article Graham and including the links to those EFF pages.

    >Once in place, the Snooper's Charter would mean that police would not have to seek permission to access details of your online communications, if investigating a crime.

    This sounds like it has the potential to be widely abused. Is there a draft of the bill available somewhere online to see what potential abilities will be made available? Will police forces start to have GCHQ/NSA resources made available?

    >Which is bad news for those who value our privacy, and believe that occasional terrorist acts are an acceptable cost if we want to keep our personal freedom and liberty.

    Errr….

  3. This is what you get for voting in right-wing dickheads who only have to cater to the wealthy (who don't really care one way or the other) and racist xenophobic morons ("the people") who are won over by simply telling them "Muslims bad & will stop immigration from ruining the economy & give them jobs & no more leaching off the system & war on terrorists & 7/7 & Britain forever" and other right-wing soundbytes which don't actually detail anything real or resolve any actual problems…

    The truth is that the government cannot even guarantee that all this extra surveillance will actually prevent ANY future terrorist attack, so to amend the statement that "occasional terrorist acts are an acceptable cost if we want to keep our personal freedom and liberty", this legislation does not even realistically improve the odds of preventing future terrorist acts beyond what they are already able to do with their powers! They can already tap suspected terrorists with little red tape, so sifting through trillions upon trillions of bytes of metadata is not a smart tool for combating terrorism, BETTER INTELLIGENCE IS! They should expend this same effort & money on better TARGETING specific operations instead of just trying to cast an impossibly wide net and hoping one day to catch something!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.