On Wednesday, the Queen opened the first session of the new Parliament and in her speech indicated that the controversial Snooper's Charter (opens in new tab) is definitely set to return.
“Measures will be brought forward to promote social cohesion and protect people by tackling extremism. New legislation will modernise the law on communications data and improve the law on Policing and criminal justice,” the Queen said (opens in new tab).
The Charter, also known as the Investigatory Powers Bill or Communications Data Bill (opens in new tab), was first introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May (opens in new tab) during the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government, but was rejected multiple times.
Should the new legislation be implemented, the government will be able to track the web and social media use of UK citizens and strengthen the security services’ powers for the bulk interception of the content of communications.
According to those responsible for the Bill, such measures better equip law enforcement and intelligence agencies to meet key operation requirements and target the online communications of terrorists.
However, while the Conservatives argue that the Snooper's Charter will give the government better means to tackle crime and terrorism, human rights groups are deeply concerned.
“We have yet to see real evidence that there is a gap in the capability of law enforcement or the agencies’ ability to gain access to our communications data,” claimed chief executive of privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch Renate Samson (opens in new tab).
“We are also yet to see any concrete evidence that access to communications data has and indeed will, make the country safer. The only evidence we have is of numerous failures to make effective use of the data already available.
“Any new draft legislations must acknowledge that the bigger the haystacks the harder it will be to find the needles,” Samson added.
Measures for small businesses
Besides the revival of the Snooper's Charter, the Queen’s Speech also introduced new measures that are set to improve life for small businesses.
“Measures will be introduced to reduce regulation on small businesses so they can create jobs,” the Queen said.
The legislation the Queen is referring to has already been introduced by new Business Secretary Sajid Javid.