UK surveillance reform – third time’s a charm?

As NSA is preparing to end bulk collection of phone calls data in the US, on the other side of the Atlantic, UK is preparing to introduce new regulation regarding investigatory powers of British law enforcement. Presented yesterday, by Home Secretary Theresa May, Investigatory Powers Bill (already known as “snoopers’ charter”) will significantly overhaul currently existing provisions regulating targeted interception, remote search, acquisition of bulk personal datasets and retention of internet connection records by CSPs (Communication Services Providers) as well as oversight and authorisation matters. The fact that data retention is once again introduced in the UK, as it is third time British government is trying to push it through, is especially daunting. Previous attempts were neutralised by judgement of CJEU that declared Data Retention Directive illegal and by decision of the UK High Court, which ordered two sections of the Data Retention and Regulation of Investigatory Powers – apparently British government refuses to be bound by judiciary.

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Cameron’s porn firewall – war on [something] at best

I’ve postponed writing on UK porn filter for quite a time. It was almost to easy to predict how things will begin and how it will unwind. Yet with filter blocking site of Claire Perry, MP and one of the biggest proponent of porn block it is impossible to resist smugly saying: I’ve told you so. Three years earlier, in 2010, the same Ms Perry started a debate on introducing such a filter. The points raised were too, almost to easy to predict: children, with their annoying ability to be early adopters of new technology, are particularly heavy users of the internet (that is actually a quote), pornography is widely and freely available on the internet, pornography is harmful and damaging to children, entire history of human perversion and deviation is available at the fingertips also parents does not know how to install filters by themselves (that’s also actually said). It is almost surprising that nobody just stood up and shouted ‘please think of the children’. Let’s not forget that at this time some forms of pornography were already banned due to Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Specifically it banned ‘extreme pornographic images’ which involved presenting acts which included acts threatening person’s life, acts of violence that might result in serious injury of anus, breasts or genitalia finally, acts of bestiality and necrophilia. Important to note is that it outlawed not (or rather not only) depiction of actual acts of violence but staged acts involving actors who consented. Jumping back to 2013 on July 22 Cameron announced that four biggest ISPs in the UK will block porn on default, threating further law changes if necessary and finally on 13th of December BT announced that new customers will have their porn blocked.

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