Last Thursday, the British parliament passed a bill granting the government “perhaps the most extreme spying powers in the developed world,” according to the U.K. Independent. The bill will, among other things, require Internet service providers to retain logs of their customers’ Web usage for up to a year and make them available to government agencies upon request. It will also force technology companies to make electronic devices less secure so that agencies can hack into them.
“The UK has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy,” tweeted National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. “It goes farther than many autocracies.”
The Investigatory Powers Act, aptly dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter” by critics, is the latest version of a bill that the government has been trying to pass for years. A previous version, the Communications Data Bill, was prevented from becoming law in 2013. As usual, however, a government seeking greater power over the people it allegedly serves wouldn’t take no for an answer. Prime Minister Theresa May reintroduced the bill a year ago when she was Home Secretary, and it passed both houses of Parliament with, as the Guardian put it, “only token resistance.”
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