Snooper's Charter will have "severe consequences"

Snooper's Charter, a highly controversial bill which would basically allow government agencies to hack into people’s computers and mobile devices has been heavily criticised by privacy advocates, saying it can have “severe consequences”.

The Investigatory Powers Act, also known as the Snooper's Charter, is set to be introduced by the UK government in November, and will enable government agencies such as the MI5, MI6 and the GCHQ powers to access private photographs, documents and communication without fear of legal repercussions.

What’s even more worrying about Snooper's Charter is the idea of using a device’s microphone and camera to conduct surveillance. Civil liberties groups have warned that this practice will have “severe consequences”.

"Hacking is highly intrusive and can have dangerous consequences," Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, said in an emailed statement to IBTimes UK. "Hacking relies on the exploitation of computer insecurities which can potentially be exploited by criminals, putting us all at risk.

"The security agencies hack into the devices of people who are not suspected of any crime in order to reach those who are. This can have severe consequences as we saw in the cases of Belgacom and Gemalto, with enormous clean-up costs being imposed on those businesses. While powers to hack may sometimes be justified, this is an area where agencies are subject to nearly no oversight and rely on ministers to decide whether their operations are justified or not."

Snooper's Charter is draft legislation proposed by Home Secretary Theresa May in the United Kingdom which would require Internet service providers and mobile phone companies to maintain records of each user's internet browsing activity (including social media), email correspondence, voice calls, internet gaming, and mobile phone messaging services and store the records for 12 months. Retention of email and telephone contact data for this time is already required by the Data Retention Regulations 2014.