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This article was published on January 14, 2016

UK scoops up millions of phone and email records but claims that’s not mass surveillance

UK scoops up millions of phone and email records but claims that’s not mass surveillance
Kirsty Styles
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Kirsty Styles

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Kirsty Styles is a journalist who lives in Hackney. She was previously editor at Tech City News and is now a reporter at The Next Web. She l Kirsty Styles is a journalist who lives in Hackney. She was previously editor at Tech City News and is now a reporter at The Next Web. She loves tech for good, cleantech, edtech, assistive tech, politech (?), diversity in tech.

Speaking as though the last few years of spying revelations just didn’t happen, the UK’s Home Secretary Teresa May has given evidence on the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) claiming the government does not undertake mass surveillance.

In what sounds like a game of semantics, in her evidence to lawmakers on the bill that’s currently being fast-tracked into law, May admitted “bulk collection” of data, including phone and email records, but said this is not “mass surveillance.”

Whatever the difference, the NSA’s former head of tech Walter Binney already said in his evidence that bulk collection costs a lot of money and wastes the time of analysts because there’s too much data to look at, which creates more security risks.

“I think the bill should address bulk acquisition and terminate that,” he said last week.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have also urged the UK in written evidence to the lawmakers considering the bill to rethink large sections of it.

Joining the efforts of the tech community, Jimmy Wales has appeared in a video for The Independent where he says people need to share information about the IPB if they wish to get around “deliberate obfuscation” from politicians.

Although Wales says that many politicians simply don’t understand these new laws, rather than deliberately setting out to lie.

In a potential blow before the law is even passed, the European Court of Human Rights has just ruled that similar “anti-terrorist” legislation in Hungary violates the European Convention on the right to a private life and correspondence.

The case was brought by two citizens in the country who were concerned that the sweeping powers invaded their privacy.

The UK is subject to the same European law and people will no doubt seek to challenge the legislation if it is approved by parliament.

Home Secretary gives evidence to the Draft Investigatory Powers Committee [Parliament.uk via Computing]