British lawmakers passed on Tuesday a new surveillance law to give security agencies more extensive monitoring capabilities in the digital age after several amendments were added to better protect privacy. Lawmakers voted 444-69 in favor of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which Interior Minister Theresa May said would help "keep us safe in an uncertain world." The bill will now go to the House of Lords, the upper house of parliament. Several lawmakers, including the opposition Scottish National Party, voted against the bill, saying that the protections for privacy were not strong enough. Last November, Prime Minister David Cameron's government announced plans for sweeping new powers that would force tech firms to store details of every website people visited for a year as well as spelling out the ability of spies to collect bulk data and hack into individuals' computers and smartphones.
Ever since Edward Snowden's leaks came to light, UK spy agencies have responded to accusations of surveillance overreach with a common boilerplate statement: that their activities are lawful, necessary and proportionate. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that key GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 bulk data collection programs violated privacy protections in the European Convention on Human Rights. Both a Bulk Communications Data effort (which covers data such as visited websites, email metadata and GPS locations) and a Bulk Personal Datasets initiative (covering biographical details like your communications and financial activities) didn't have proper oversight until 2015, when some safeguards came into place. That's particularly damning when BCD was had been in place since 1998, and BPD since 2006. There weren't sufficient codes of practice covering either program, the Tribunal says.
In June, as the campaigns to Remain or Leave the European Union were at the final stage, Parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill that critics believe is the most intrusive piece of legislation on mass surveillance in the West. Just 69 MPs voted against the Investigatory Powers Bill -- dubbed the "Snoopers' Charter" by critics -- which is now with the House of Lords for further consideration. SEE ALSO: Politicians are throwing serious 404 error page shade at Britain's incoming prime minister Privacy campaigners pointed the finger at measures that would give the government bulk powers to collect citizens' web records, monitor, intercept and even hack smartphones under warrants authorised by ministers. A recent report by House of Lords peers warned that the charter could endanger journalists and their sources as computer hacking could allow the state to access a journalist's notes or video footage. It's worth noting that the legislation is the brainchild of Theresa May, the "steely" and "hard-working" Home Secretary who is poised to become the first woman prime minister since Margaret Thatcher.
The UK is about to become one of the world's foremost surveillance states, allowing its police and intelligence agencies to spy on its own people to a degree that is unprecedented for a democracy. The UN's privacy chief has called the situation "worse than scary." Edward Snowden says it's simply "the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy." The legislation in question is called the Investigatory Powers Bill. It's been cleared by politicians and awaits only the formality of royal assent before it becomes law.
Video: German police handed hacking powers to bypass encrypted communications. De-Cix in Frankfurt is the largest internet hub in the world. For years, it quietly went along with the German intelligence services' insistence on sifting through the floods of data that traverse its facilities, until September 2016, when it sued them. Until a revision to German law last year, the Federal Intelligence Service, Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND, could only inspect up to 20 percent of the traffic flowing through the hub. The'G10 law' also says the agency can only inspect international communications.