Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

British ‘Investigatory Powers Bill’ Set to Become Law

Matt Burgess, Wired:

Both the House of Lords and House of Commons have now passed the Investigatory Powers Bill – the biggest overhaul of surveillance powers for more than a decade.


The Home Office, the department responsible for the law, has said the provisions listed within it are needed to help protect the country’s national security and give more oversight than ever before. While civil rights groups and those in opposition to the powers say it is intrusive and draconian.

This is the legislation that mandates ISPs keep twelve months’ worth of browsing history for each of their customers, permits the intrusion of devices singularly and in bulk, and allows intelligence agencies to go dumpster diving through enormous sets of scooped data — much of which was likely obtained illegally — looking for anything that might be relevant.

The bill was originally drawn up by the now-Prime Minister Theresa May, whose office responded to a request for her browser history by calling it a “scattergun approach” and “fishing for information”. No word on whether that should still be interpreted as a negative.

Surveillance bills from around the world have been described as “Orwellian”. This is usually hyperbolic, yet it’s most fitting here both for the bill’s contents, and that it will become law in George Orwell’s own country.