The UK’s draconian internet law

As we approach the end of 2016, there are mixed views – so many celebrity deaths this year, but more importantly, the passing of the ‘Investigatory Powers Act 2016’ here in the UK means the death of freedom on the internet:

Broadband ISPs and mobile operators will tonight offer a collective sigh after the Investigatory Powers Bill effectively achieved Royal Asset to become an Act. The new law will force providers into logging a big slice of your Internet activity, irrespective of whether or not you’re even suspected of a crime.

At present ISPs need to see a warrant before logging what customers do online (for up to 12 months) and related logs are also extremely basic. By comparison the new law introduces a system that will require ISPs to store comparatively detailed Internet Connection Records (e.g. the websites / servers you’ve visited) for all their customers and this will also be accessible without a warrant (summary).

The recent Code of Practice suggested that an ICR’s “core information” will most likely include a customer’s “account reference, a source [Internet Protocol] and port address, a destination IPand port address and a time/date” (details), but some providers may be expected to collect more data than this if they can.

However a full interception warrant will still be required to obtain the most detailed information (e.g. the content of your communications), but even without one the ISP would still need to record your basic activity via ICRs (these will be stored for a period of 12 months) and that’s neither easy nor cheap to do.

Now, while I do not visit any sites linked to verboten activities, I do now utilise the services of a VPN provider to safeguard my civil liberties. I encourage everyone to do the same – Windscribe offer unlimited bandwidth on unlimited devices, and in a household with 15 computers, and 4 phones running Linux, Windows, Mac OS, and Android operating systems, a single simple approach is welcomed.

And so, as 2016 comes to a close, welcome to 1984

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