With new laws, the United Kingdom will soon be able to monitor landline and cell phone calls, text messages, website visits, and emails of everyone in the country, according to the BBC. Internet firms will be forced to allow intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters access to communications upon demand.
The Home Office claims that the move is a necessity in order to be able to tackle crime and terrorism. The new law, which is expected to be announced next month in May, will not enable the Government Communications Headquarters agency to be able to access the content of messages or emails without a warrant. However, it will let intelligence officers to identify whom a group or an individual has been in contact with, for how long, and how frequently.
“It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communication data in certain circumstances to investigate crime and terrorism and to protect the public,” claims a spokesperson for the Home Office.
Others are unconvinced by the justifications however, with the director of the campaign group known as Big Brother Watch, Nick Pickles, slamming the move as seeing the United Kingdom “adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran”. “This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant costs to internet businesses,” he notes.