The UK’s New Surveillance Law: Security Necessity or Snoopers’ Charter?

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On January 1st, the United Kingdom began the implementation of the Investigatory Powers Act, widely considered the most comprehensive—and intrusive—surveillance law in the Western world. The Act authorizes government access to bulk datasets such as travel logs, financial transactions, biometrics, the interception of digital communications data, the hacking of devices, and requires the retention of browsing history by Internet service providers.

Advocates argue the law gives UK intelligence agencies and law enforcement the tools necessary to address threats ranging from serious criminal activity to international terrorism and malicious cyber activity in the digital age, all while providing the necessary assurances of democratic oversight and privacy protections.

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