The British government will be able to track the phone calls and Internet use of every citizen and hack into almost any computer thanks to a new law that critics have dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter.”
“The UK has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy,” U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted. “It goes further than many autocracies.”
Parliament authorized mass surveillance, bulk collection of data, warrantless searches and other extreme measures when it passed the Investigatory Powers Act on Nov. 17. It now needs only the queen’s approval, or royal assent, which is a mere formality. It requires phone and Internet companies to keep records of every call made and website visited, respectively, for the previous 12 months.
The data can be legally accessed by not only police and intelligence departments but also by government agencies such as fire officials, food regulators and tax inspectors. All total, 48 government organizations will be able to see the data, all without a warrant.