U.K. Parliament debates Snooper's Charter

The legislation, also known as the Draft Data Communications Bill, would enlist U.K.-based companies to store a 12-month backlog of data about every individual.
The legislation, also known as the Draft Data Communications Bill, would enlist U.K.-based companies to store a 12-month backlog of data about every individual.

The U.K. Parliament will debate Snooper's Charter on Monday and Tuesday. The controversial legislation, also known as the Draft Data Communications Bill, would enlist U.K.-based companies to store a 12-month backlog of data about every individual, in order to allow more detailed data requests from law enforcement authorities.

The motive driving the bill is an unpopular sentiment in the U.K. According to a survey published by U.K.-based human rights organization Liberty, 30 percent of British adults believe it is never acceptable for the government to access and monitor records.

“The idea of ‘passive' retained records, that lie unexamined until someone comes to the attention of the authorities, will lie dead,” Open Rights Group Policy Director Javier Ruiz Diaz wrote in a blog post. “The data becomes an actively checked resource, allowing everyone's potential guilt to be assessed as needed.”

Industry professionals believe companies must take additional steps beyond regulatory policy to protect user data. “The onus to protect customer data must be on companies themselves, something large-scale policy can rarely do in a comprehensive manner,” Rick Orloff, chief security officer of Code42, wrote in an email to SCMagazine.com. “But it does not necessarily reflect how data moves, making the focus on data server locations irrelevant in the bigger picture of information security.”

Following the advance of "Snooper's Charter" last year, U.K.-based Blockchain infrastructure firm Eris Industries announced in June that the company would relocate from the U.K. as a result of surveillance it expected to be imposed on U.K. businesses by the legislation. In May 2015, social media start-up Ind.ie said it would to move from the U.K. due to similar concerns. The same month, PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) creator Phil Zimmermann said that he would move his privacy start-up, Silent Circle, from the U.S. to Switzerland over surveillance fears.

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