Snoopers' charter set to return to law as Theresa May suggests Conservative majority could lead to huge increase in surveillance powers

Previous attempts to introduce huge surveillance powers had been blocked by Liberal Democrat members of the coalition

The Conservatives are already planning to introduce the huge surveillance powers known as the Snoopers’ Charter, hoping that the removal from government of the Liberal Democrats that previously blocked the controversial law will allow it to go through.

The law, officially known as the Draft Communications Data Bill, is already back on the agenda according to Theresa May. It is expected to force British internet service providers to keep huge amounts of data on their customers, and to make that information available to the government and security services.

The snoopers’ charter received huge criticism from computing experts and civil liberties campaigners in the wake of introduction. It was set to come into law in 2014, but Nick Clegg withdrew his support for the bill and it was blocked by the Liberal Democrats. Theresa May, who led the legislation as home secretary, said shortly after the Conservatives' election victory became clear that she will seek to re-introduce it to government. With the re-election of May and the likely majority of her party, the bill is likely to find success if the new government tries again.

 

David Cameron has suggested that his party could introduce even more wide-ranging powers if he was re-elected to government. Speaking in January, he said that there should be no form of communication that the government was unable to read — likely causing chaos among the many internet services that rely on encryption to keep users’ data safe.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris at the beginning of the year, he pledged to re-introduce the snoopers’ charter. He asked: “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which […] we cannot read?”

His comments could mean that encryption could be outlawed or heavily regulated, potentially leaving users' data highly insecure.

Throughout the election campaign and before, Conservatives have repeatedly said that they would introduce the bill again if they were to be re-elected.

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