UK govt to introduce new email and web usage monitoring law

The UK Conservative-Liberal Democratic Coalition government is trotting out a new version of the controversial Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) that was proposed by the previous Labour government but was never realized due to their loss at the elections and the poor support for the bill.

The new version is dubbed the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP).

Pushed by Home Secretary Theresa May who claims that only criminals, pedophiles and terrorists should fear it, the proposed legislation would require ISPs, landline and mobile phone companies to record and store information about users’ activities and allow agents form the various UK intelligence agencies to access that information in real time and without a warrant.

According to The Register, these records would stretch back for two years, and would contain information on things like who has been contacting whom, where from, how often and for how long via phone calls, text messages, emails and direct messages on social networks, as well as information on which websites each user has been visiting.

The actual contents of the messages would be accessible to them only with a warrant signed by the relevant minister.

As the date of the start of the London Olympics is steadily approaching, the UK government is worried about the potential terrorist threat to such a huge event, and is looking for ways to minimize the dangers.

Talks with ISPs and other providers regarding the bill have already been initiated.

It is believed that the new proposed legislation will be announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, but it will still have to be approved by the two Houses of Parliament.

Even though a number of privacy activists have raised their voices in opposition to the bill, calling it an attack on privacy that is not at all guaranteed to improve public safety and an “unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran,” the thing that will, I suspect, mostly influence the final result is the fact that the realization of it would cost billions of pounds to implement.

Some of the costs would have to be absorbed by the private companies that would be expected to collect and store the information in question, but the rest would be paid with taxpayers’ money.

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