Why should the UK pension watchdog be able to spy on your internet activities? Same reason as the Environment Agency and many others • The VPNOnlineFree

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It was called “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy”. He does not have once But twice were found to be illegal. It sparked the biggest protest ever called him “Not suitable for use.”

And now the UK Investigative Powers Act of 2016 – better known as Snooper's Charter – should expand to allow government agencies you may never have heard of to browse your web history, email, or cell phone records .

In one memorandum [PDF] first Point by The Guardian, the British government requests that five other public authorities be added to the list of organizations which can access data collected under national laws on mass surveillance: the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Environment Agency, l ‘Insolvency Service, the United Kingdom's National Tapping Authority (UKNACE) and Pension Regulator.

The note explains why everyone should be given extraordinary powers, in general and in particular. In general, the five agencies “are increasingly unable to rely on local police to investigate crimes on their behalf”, and should therefore have direct access to the data channel itself.

Five why

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) is a special armed police force that provides security at nuclear sites in the United Kingdom and when nuclear material is moved. It should be accessible even if “the current threat to nuclear sites in the UK is deemed to be low” because “it can also be difficult to accurately assess risks without having all the necessary information”.

The Environment Agency is investigating “more than 40,000 suspected infringements each year,” said the memo. This is why it should also be able to ask ISPs to provide it with the most sensitive communication information, in order to “fight serious and organized waste crimes”.

The insolvency department investigates breaches of business leaders' recusal orders. Some of those he studies are put in prison, so it is essential that the service be allowed to “assign subscribers to phone numbers and analyze itemized bills”, as well as to see which IP addresses access specific email accounts.

UKNACE, a little-known agency that we have took a look at in the past is home to real Qs, and one of its jobs is to detect attempts to eavesdrop on British government offices. He needs access to the country's communications data “in order to identify and locate an attacker or an illegal transmission device,” the note said.

Finally, the pension regulator, which verifies that companies have added their employees to their pension plans, must be able to delve into anyone's emails so that they can “guarantee compliance and penalize wrongdoing”.

Taken together, the requests reflect exactly what critics of the investigative powers law feared would happen: that a once shocking power that had been granted on the back of fears of terrorism be slowly extended to the government agency. more obscure, for no other reason than this. will make life easier for bureaucrats.

None of the agencies would be required to request warrants to access people's Internet connection data, and they would be added to more than 50 agencies that already have access, including the Food Standards Agency, the Gambling Commission and the NHS Business Services Authority .


One of the biggest concerns remains the inadequacy of the safeguards in place to prevent the system from being misused; concerns that only increase with the increase in the number of people having access to electronic communications in the country.

It is also unclear how all of these agencies access accumulated data, or what restrictions are in place beyond a large-scale “double lock” authorization process that requires the approval of a former judge. (a judicial commissioner or JC). ministerial approval.

A report released earlier this month by the Office of the Investigative Powers Commissioner (IPCO), which was set up to oversee the Espionage Act, covering 2018, gave the entire process a clean health check while revealing an autonomous process brimming with self-congratulation.

“We have been increasingly impressed by the benefit of the dual role of IPCO: first, to undertake the review of warrants and, second, to have retrospective control over the use of investigative powers,” notes the report. “JCs regularly ask inspectors to focus on specific issues during supervisory visits by inspectors, and inspectors similarly share information about the warranty process with JCs. In other words, these two functions – guarantee and ex post facto (retrospective) inspection – contribute considerably to reinforcing each other and to building confidence in the system as a whole. “

The report noted that 2018 was a “transitional year”, but only in a separate section explained due to the fact that the law had to be changed because it had been deemed illegal because it did not limit government ‘access communication data kept only to combat serious crimes.

It was the second time that the law was found illegal in part. And last year, the whole law was contested as being incompatible with human rights laws.

Everything is fishing

Despite the “transition” resulting in what the report recognized as inaccurate data (“the statistics at the end of the report do not give as complete a picture as they will be in the years to come”), it was encouraged by the fact that “it is clear that there have been only a few refusals by the JC of the requests which they have examined. “

IPCO then immediately defended both the JCs and the government: “It is essential that this is not interpreted as a failure of the JCs to provide a rigorous review of the applications. Nothing could be further from the truth. These requests do not reach IPCO until after a detailed and multi-level examination within the organization requesting authorization and, where applicable, the mandate allocation service. “

Nothing in the new memorandum which aims to extend the supervisory powers of the law on investigative powers to five new bodies if the resources of the Commissioner of Investigative Powers (CPI), which currently employs “about 50 people” , will also be increased.

This, and if the investigative work of the new agencies can be considered a “serious crime” and sufficient to allow them to access millions of personal data, will have to be decided by MEPs and peers as they go advancement of the parliamentary process. ®

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