If you think GCHQ are the only ones that can view your browsing history you might want to think again.
The newly enforced Investigatory Powers Bill gives 48 government agencies access to your internet connection records; a log of which internet services you’ve accessed. These include which websites you’ve visited and even when you’ve used instant messaging apps.
Now that the Snoopers’ Charter has come into force the bill is being examined with a fine toothpick to find out just what it means for us and our personal information.
In case you’re wondering just what these organisations are then you can send your thanks to Chris Yiu, a blogger who has combed through the bill and discovered which government agencies will have access to this information.
Metropolitan Police Service
City of London Police
Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
Police Service of Scotland
Police Service of Northern Ireland
British Transport Police
Ministry of Defence Police
Royal Navy Police
Royal Military Police
Royal Air Force Police
Secret Intelligence Service
Ministry of Defence
Department of Health
Ministry of Justice
National Crime Agency
HM Revenue & Customs
Department for Transport
Department for Work and Pensions
NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
Competition and Markets Authority
Criminal Cases Review Commission
Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
Financial Conduct Authority
Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
Food Standards Agency
Food Standards Scotland
Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
Health and Safety Executive
Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
NHS Business Services Authority
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
Office of Communications
Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
Scottish Ambulance Service Board
Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
Serious Fraud Office
Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust
In his blog, titled “Who can view my internet history”, Yiu doesn’t mince his words when it comes to expressing how he feels.
“I always wondered what it would feel like to be suffocated by the sort of state intrusion that citizens are subjected to in places like China, Russia and Iran. I guess we’re all about to find out.”
Boasting some of the most invasive surveillance laws we’ve ever seen, the Investigatory Powers Bill includes bulk data collection, the forced surveillance of personal devices (in extreme cases) and the ability to even control those devices if possible.
We spoke to John Shaw, VP Product Management at Sophos about how the bill could affect us and whether we should be worried.
Shaw presented an alternative point of view which is that while the bill is indeed invasive, it’s the indirect actions of the bill which could pose the most amount of danger to us.
“We should perhaps be more nervous that a hacker might break into the store of data held by your ISP and sell it on.” explains Shaw.
“Especially after the revelations about TalkTalk, one of the ISPs that will need to store the data. The government’s advisers claim that there will be very strict controls on the storing and security of the data. But I for one feel nervous about that, and that is the thing that might cause me to use a VPN.”