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UN, Twitter, Edward Snowden Condemn UK 'Snooper's Charter 2'

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It's been described as the dawning of 'the most extreme surveillance in the history of Western democracy.' On Tuesday, the landmark Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as 'Snooper's Charter 2' for its affording the UK government unprecedented powers of surveillance over internet and communications data, became law after gaining royal assent; prompting a tsunami of criticism over the past 36 hours. 

According to the Independent, the government can now force internet companies 'to keep records on their users for up to a year,' and 'to hack into or break things [the companies have] sold so they can be spied on.' The government can now store in a database the web history of the entire population of Britain; and spies will be allowed to hack individuals, web infrastructure, and 'even whole towns,' some claim.  

The government itself has officially stated that 'at a time of heightened security and threat, it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe.' The bill, it says, 'protects both privacy and security and underwent unprecedented scrutiny before becoming law.' Indeed, David Cameron previously called it 'one of the most important pieces of legislation of this parliament,' and former Home Secretary Theresa May, the foremost advocate of the bill as it was pushed through, described the question of its passing as 'a matter of life and death.

But a wide spectrum of critics, from privacy campaigners to members of the public, the United Nations, and some huge technology companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter, have expressed outrage at the move. 

So far, over 144,000 members of the public have signed a repeal petition; Joseph Cannacati, Special Rapporteur on Privacy for the United Nations, has called it 'worse than scary'; various media outlets have criticised the government for employing 'fear tactics'; and privacy campaigner Edward Snowden, whose opposition to the bill from its inception has seen him variously describe the proposed legislation as 'intrusive' and 'the least accountable surveillance regime in the West,' tweeted his condemnation earlier this month after the bill was passed by the House of Lords:

Meanwhile, various Labour Party politicians including Jeremy Corbyn and Shami Chakrabarty have been widely criticised for not leading a push-back against the bill. 

The new law, which considers the use of social networks and other modes of private electronic communications to be a 'problem' when it comes to upholding British internal security, will gradually reveal its effects over the coming months. For now, whilst government sources are celebrating its inauguration, it is clear that many critics are worried about the extended reach it affords the British state, and the precedent this will set for future law enforcement activities. 

James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London. Follow him @Songbird_James

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UN, Twitter, Edward Snowden Condemn UK 'Snooper's Charter 2' Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, December 01, 2016 Rating: 5

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