24 November 2016

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016: a threat to privacy and freedom

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 is a threat to people's privacy and freedom. Yet, it was never effectively opposed and challenged.

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 passed into law in the UK, “with barely a whimper,” according to The Guardian (19-Nov-2016). In the words of Edward Snowden: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

Broadly speaking, the Act enables state snoopers to bulk collect our electronic data, to have ready access to all metadata (who is speaking to whom and when) and to hack into our devices.

Most distressing is the low level of interest among the liberal left, with Labour in Parliament nodding in favour and merely requesting a few minor tweaks here and there. Outside Parliament, campaigning against the Act was lacklustre, with GHCQ itself apparently surprised at the ease with which it managed to enlarge its powers. Equally disappointing has been the low level of interest among left-wing activists in encrypting their communications, by using such services as Signal, Tutanota and Tor.

With the Trump victory in the US and Britain's post-Brexit lurch to the right, we may come to regret our indifference.

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