First draft of new Investigatory Powers bill may affect internet privacy

The draft of the Investigatory Powers bill has been announced, and it may affect the privacy rights of people when they use the internet.

The large document has been the cause of some contention and intrigue over the last few weeks, but now it has been revealed. The issue at the heart of the controversy surrounding the bill is whether it will give powers to the government which will allow it to look at people’s internet and chat history.

Should the bill be finalised and come into effect, it would, according to the first draft of it, oblige internet a service providers (ISP) to hold onto IP address information for twelve months before deleting them, so that the data can be recovered if necessary.

The worry of course is that people will lose out on their rights to privacy. However, the information would have to be kept in a way that makes it impossible for cyber criminals to get a hold of it, something that is very difficult to do with 100% certainty.

However, even though this information will be stored and held onto, the authorities would still need to get a warrant before accessing the data.

The bill has come about due to the absurdity that officials can access a person’s itemised phone numbers, but not the people that they have been contacting through apps like Snapchat.

It is another case of the law attempting to keep up with the advancements in technology.

One of the other areas that people were worried about the law imposing on, was end-to-end encryption. This encrypts messages so that they can only be read by the recipient, and apps like WhatsApp make use of this. The bill, however, does not effect this method of security.

Experts have argued that the way the bill is going to work is superfluous and unnecessary anyway. “They can install a Trojan or something on your computer or smartphone remotely,” said Professor Peter Sommer.