It's time for more snooping in the U.K. Not content with a draft bill that would allow the government to access up to 12 months of citizens' browsing histories, yesterday a Parliamentary committee introduced a final version of the bill that would expand the scope of those powers.
The final bill would allow police investigating crimes to access all web browsing activities, not just those suspected to be illegal, The Guardian reports. Hours after the bill was introduced, in what the paper described as a "highly unusual" move, the Home Office issued a clarification, explaining that the hacking powers aren't new and that accessing those records are standard police practice.
"The revised Bill we introduced today reflects the majority of the committees' recommendations – we have strengthened safeguards, enhanced privacy protections and bolstered oversight arrangements - and will now be examined by Parliament before passing into law by the end of 2016," Home Secretary Theresa May said in a statement.
But security advocates aren't convinced. They've nicknamed the bill the "Snooper's Charter," and claim that it will interfere with encryption. One provision allows the police to request that tech companies break their own encryption in some circumstances, but only if it is practical to do so.
Entrepreneur and Tech London Advocates director Russ Shaw told Newsweek that the expansive power the bill affords the government is a double-edged sword.
"While it is important that police and security services are equipped with the tools required to tackle online crime, the Investigatory Powers Bill ignores the recommendations of technology companies and irrevocably sacrifices consumer privacy," Shaw said in a statement.
The Joint Committee on Investigatory Powers apparently shares some of those concerns, since it has already revised and clarified the bill several times. As the bill heads for debate in Parliament, it could be revised again.