The Investigatory Powers Bill forces internet providers to keep a full record of every site visited by each of its customers for over a year. Of course, government accounts are exempt from this Orwellian law.
This bill is not simply about notifying the government if a specific site has been visited, it is about listing every single site that has been visited by each citizen and when. This information will be made available to a very large range of government bodies. Of course, there’s the police, the military and the secret service but also others entities such as the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Here’s a full list of the agencies allowed to search the browsing history of UK citizens.
- Metropolitan Police Service
- City of London Police
- Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
- Police Service of Scotland
- Police Service of Northern Ireland
- British Transport Police
- Ministry of Defence Police
- Royal Navy Police
- Royal Military Police
- Royal Air Force Police
- Security Service
- Secret Intelligence Service
- Ministry of Defence
- Department of Health
- Home Office
- Ministry of Justice
- National Crime Agency
- HM Revenue & Customs
- Department for Transport
- Department for Work and Pensions
- NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
- Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
- Competition and Markets Authority
- Criminal Cases Review Commission
- Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
- Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
- Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
- Financial Conduct Authority
- Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
- Food Standards Agency
- Food Standards Scotland
- Gambling Commission
- Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
- Health and Safety Executive
- Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
- Information Commissioner
- NHS Business Services Authority
- Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
- Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
- Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
- Office of Communications
- Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
- Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
- Scottish Ambulance Service Board
- Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
- Serious Fraud Office
- Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust
Let’s face it, this law is custom made to create a climate of fear and paranoia in the UK. Studies have shown that government surveillance stops people from sharing controversial opinions online as it has a ‘chilling effect on democratic discourse’. Also, since people sometimes visit explicit websites and tend to google their most personal issues, they could easily be subjected to blackmail or other nefarious actions.
Will government officials be subjected to the same transparency? Nope. In fact, the only amendment politicians have submitted to the controversial bill is to stop MPs from being spied on.
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