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The Government is trying to create a surveillance state

The following is an excerpt from an op-ed that appeared in the Daily Telegraph written by Carly Nyst, Legal Director of Privacy International:

One of the most shocking discoveries from Edward Snowden's disclosures was that GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, is tapping undersea cables to harvest the communications of people from all around the world. This top-secret programme, nicknamed Tempora, sucks up petabytes of data from tapped cables off the coast of Cornwall and is capable of storing the entirety of the metadata travelling through cross-Atlantic links for 30 days, and the content of communications for three. If it is authorised by law at all, it is on the basis of highly tenuous interpretations that run afoul of human rights; this very week the Government finds itself having to justify these interpretations in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The emergency legislation that is being forced through the House of Commons today may enable GCHQ to extend its Tempora programme to every country on earth. The Government has disgracefully disguised an emergency law that dramatically expands its surveillance capabilities as harmless legislation that simply seeks to maintain current data retention powers.

The Government’s argument that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill – Drip – is necessary to preserve current capabilities, and does not contain new powers, is not only disingenuous, it is untrue. In fact, the Bill contains provisions that dramatically inflate the British surveillance state, extending the reach of the security services globally.

The Bill proposes amending the UK interception law, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), to grant the government the authority to issue interception warrants to telecommunication companies and internet services across the world. Not only will the Bill enable the government to compel such companies to assist them in intercepting emails and phone calls, it will also give the government power to require foreign companies to build backdoors into their communications infrastructure.

Read the full piece here