Privacy advocates alarmed as UK unveils laws proposing power to spy on Web use

“Britain unveiled plans on Wednesday for sweeping new surveillance powers, including the right to find out which websites people visit, measures ministers say are vital to keep the country safe but which critics denounce as an assault on freedoms,” Michael Holden and Kate Holton report for Reuters. “Across the West, debate about how to protect privacy while helping agencies operate in the digital age has raged since former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of mass surveillance by British and U.S. spies in 2013. Experts say part of the new British bill goes beyond the powers available to security services in the United States.”

“Home Secretary Theresa May told lawmakers the new document was unprecedented in detailing what spies could do and how they would be monitored. ‘It will provide the strongest safeguards and world-leading oversight arrangements,’ she said. ‘And it will give the men and women of our security and intelligence agencies and our law enforcement agencies … the powers they need to protect our country,'” Holden and Holton report. “They would be able to require communication service providers (CSPs) to hold their customers’ web browsing data for a year, which experts say is not available to their U.S. counterparts.”

“‘What the British are attempting to do, and what the French have already done post Charlie Hebdo, would never have seen the light of day in the American political system,’ Michael Hayden, former director of the U.S. National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency, told Reuters,” Holden and Holton report. “As well as being able to carry out bulk interception of communications data, the security services would be allowed to perform “equipment interference”, whereby spies take over computers or smartphones to access their data. Technology companies could be compelled to assist in that process. Even if they cannot be ordered to provide an update that would compromise equipment, said Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they might be told not to issue an update that patches a security flaw being exploited by the government. ‘Equipment interference is a big one, because that undermines trust in the products,’ said a U.S. industry trade group’s expert on the bill, asked to predict opposition from the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google. ‘If it makes you hesitate to update your iPhone software or use WhatsApp or Gmail, that’s a big deal for them.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Opposed this idiocy with all of your might, Brits!

The reason for mass encryption is the misuse of mass surveillance.

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Do not let the government snoops weaken encryption – November 4, 2015
UK Prime Minister Cameron backs law to make Apple’s iPhone encryption illegal – November 3, 2015
U.S. NSA seeks to build quantum computer to crack most types of encryption – January 3, 2014
Government pressure for Apple to bypass encryption reduced as iPhone owner enters guilty plea – October 31, 2015
Judge compares government request for Apple to access users’ iPhone data to execution order – October 27, 2015
U.S. judge expresses doubts over forcing Apple to unlock iPhone – October 26, 2015
US DOJ claims Apple lacks legal standing to refuse iPhone unlock order – October 23, 2015
Apple tells U.S. judge it can’t unlock iPhones running iOS 8 or higher – October 20, 2015
a href=””>Apple CEO Cook defends encryption, opposes back door for government spies – October 20, 2015
With Apple court order, activist federal judge seeks to fuel debate about data encryption – October 12, 2015
Judge declines to order Apple to disable security on device seized by U.S. government – October 10, 2015
Apple refused to give iMessages to the U.S. government – September 8, 2015
Obama administration war against Apple just got uglier – July 31, 2015
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
U.S. Senate blocks measures to extend so-called Patriot Act; NSA’s bulk collection of phone records in jeopardy – May 23, 2015
Rand Paul commandeers U.S. Senate to protest so-called Patriot Act, government intrusion on Americans’ privacy – May 20, 2015
Apple, others urge Obama to reject any proposal for smartphone backdoors – May 19, 2015
U.S. appeals court rules NSA bulk collection of phone data illegal – May 7, 2015
In open letter to Obama, Apple, Google, others urge Patriot Act not be renewed – March 26, 2015
Apple’s iOS encryption has ‘petrified’ the U.S. administration, governments around the world – March 19, 2015


      1. A lot of what’s going on is ‘testing the waters’, IOW the citizenry, to see what they can get away with. As with the USA, its a noxious soup of:
        1) Real concern about the loonies out in the world doing damage and murder.
        2) Plain old paranoia.
        3) FUD mongering for various causes, such as the military industrial complex. Freak the populace and suck on their paranoia money.
        4) Direct and verifiable psychopathy inside our governments. There are plenty of other descriptive names like ‘negative anarchist’, ‘berserkers’, ‘greedy twats’ and so forth. But it all sits somewhere on the psychopathy scale.

        And more no doubt. What’s critical from my POV is to NEVER let the FUD mongers or terrorists or whoever take away ANY basic human and citizen rights. As soon as one totalitarian dictate is successful, there’s always another to follow. At each negative step, all the baddies win. So just cut it off and say tough luck if the ‘powers that be’ want some extra ruination of citizen rights for the cause of getting some sort of baddie or other. NO, you can’t invade our well defined rights, otherwise YOU, ‘powers that be’, are the baddie. That applies to local law enforcement right up to the latest loon in the White House or Downing Street.

        It’s all about serving We The People, never denigrating us or compromising us. I negate all arguments to the contrary.

      1. When discussion about the proposed bill was front page, even the government spokesmen didn’t know what “metadata” means, and it’s reported to be not defined in legislation. I believe your average Aussie would know sweet all about how any of the spying laws affect them personally. The masses probably do believe the “think of the terrorists” line, and think “She’ll be right, I’m not a terrorist.” The Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner is even quoted as saying “Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.” O_O (See

    1. The world 200 years ago and the world today are more alike than you are willing to see. The brilliance of the minds who designed this nation and her Constitution are still protecting us from a voracious government today. To suggest that any freedom is not necessary can only come from a mind too small to comprehend the amount of blood that has been spilled to acquire that freedom. Blood is the only currency that buys freedom. I invite you, Seb, to lock your self away securely in some dark cell somewhere, a place where I hope you enjoy your lasting safety.

  1. “They would be able to require communication service providers (CSPs) to hold their customers’ web browsing data for a year, which experts say is not available to their U.S. counterparts.”

    Wow. Creeping Totalitarianism

    “They” always say it’s about making us safer. If that doesn’t work, they say it’s about protecting the children. We saw how fast our own FBI went from using terrorism as the threat to child pornography. It doesn’t matter what the situation or context are, each time they seek to remove a freedom, diminish a liberty, or “protect the people from themselves,” three things happen.

    First the people are made less secure. Less secure from them, that is.

    Second, the people are made less free, easier to regulate.

    Third, they grow. Always bigger, always stronger, always more powerful. Never will you hear a government say, “We’ve overstepped our bounds.” As governments grow stronger, the people grow weaker.

    Their reasoning is at best Orwellian. They look us straight in the eye and say, “In order to make you safer, we must make you less secure,” and we just allow it.

    As they assault the independence, individuality, and freedom of the people, it is their governments who become the real enemy. They say they want to protect the people from crime. How clever they are, as they make more and more aspects of everyday life criminal.

    Pay attention to how they operate. When a maniac takes innocent lives with a gun, they will seek to diminish the access and liberties of the hundred million gun owners who committed no crime. When a jihadist blows up a building, they increase surveillance on the people. For their safety of course.

    Safety safety safety. Isn’t it ironic that they are always pushing less freedom as the precursor to safety, but are completely unwilling to secure the borders to possible threats?

    I would also hope that Apple and others cease providing products and services to Brits if required to comply with such batshit crazy legislation.

  2. Seriously? If you provide many thousands of government employees with the ability to perform the function of Peeping Toms into all things digital in our lives, how can you be so clueless as to think that anything digital could remain private? These government policies will enable mass espionage.

    The government has laws in place requiring digital privacy, and now wants laws outlawing absolute digital privacy? Lunacy! Further, how could the government expect businesses and individuals working in highly sensitive areas in industry, government, and the military to be comfortable with these new proposals? I seems to me the government is trying to force us to be outlaws by using 3rd party encryption. And, how could the government be so clueless as to think the worst bad actors are not already using 3rd party encryption in conjunction with that provided by standard products we all use from all companies in our digital lives? We should all be very vocal to our government regulators in opposition of these new policies. In the US, the Senate just passed new Peeping Tom legislation last week, following a Peeping Tom bill that has already passed the House – we need to fight those bills and the political FUD that is behind them getting through congress.

  3. Time for the Brits to download Tails:

    ” Tails is a live operating system, that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to:

    use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship;
    all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network;
    leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly;
    use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.”

  4. Having just read the draft bill, one of the most shocking parts is the Wilson Doctrine – preventing the surveillance of parliamentarians. One law for them, another for the people. Good job we have the House of Lords, who will (I hope) throw out the bill.

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