back to article UK surveillance laws tightened up as most spying demands to be subject to warrants

A very rare thing has happened to British state spying laws: they have been tightened up after parts of the so-called Snoopers' Charter were formally commenced into law. Newly commenced sections of the Investigatory Powers Act, better known as the Snoopers' Charter, will slightly restrict the ability of local councils and …

  1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Step in the right direction

    It's not massive, but at least it's a step in the right direction, and sets the tone for when we need to make massive changes because we (predictably) don't get a Adequacy decision from the EU after January because we allow too much state access.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Step in the right direction

      Proxy consent is not consent.

      A veneer of due process, is not due process.

      Simply ask yourself if this is a) to protect people from unwarranted (and warrantless) surveillance, or b) to protect the snoopers and the telcos from possible liability, if this is ruled illegal.

      It's clearly b) and its not a step in the right direction, because it simply delays the correction to this bad law.

      By the time you see the need to put in the checks and balances, it will already be too late to do it.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Step in the right direction

        Until you see telcos refusing to cooperate (isn't going to happen) or

        Warrants issued when telcos refuse to cooperate (isn't going to happen, see above)

        All you've got is same old, same old with a shaky legal justification.

        1. Woodnag Silver badge

          Re: Step in the right direction

          Ah, but can you use GDPR to pre-emptively refuse permission for telcos and delivery services to pass on your info without a judicial paper?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Step in the right direction

      It is meaningless without enforcement and sanctions.

      For example, in 2016 the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that UK security services had illegally collected confidential personal data on an industrial scale for nearly twenty years. There were no consequences for the crime, other than a government spokesman saying Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "all was well in state surveillance land"

    Well of course it is. There have never been so many ways to get data on people, not to mention the data people themselves willingly post in social media.

    Surveillance organizations are positively creaming themselves daily on all the stuff they can gather without any oversight whatsoever. And if a judge starts getting uppity, they just promise to not do it any more, continue doing it, and flag it under National Security where no judge can go.

    It's a great time for surveillance. Not so much for Democracy. And I would really like to know just how many crimes all this "surveillance" has prevented.

    Because that's how they're presenting it, right ? They need surveillance to find terrorists before a bomb blows. So how many terrorists have they stopped ? I think we should be told.

    Then again, that just means that I'm expecting them to actually tell the truth, which is a patently ridiculous notion.

    So let's all just carry on with our lives, and wait for better times.

    1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

      Re: "all was well in state surveillance land"

      You forgot those damned paedos! It's all about the children.

      1. Woodnag Silver badge

        Re: "all was well in state surveillance land"

        The surveillance IS about the paedos. As soon as Ghislaine is detected to be about to talk about Prince Andrew, she'll commit suicide in her cell too!

  3. Dr. Vagmeister

    Still a Very Bad Law

    States : "any surveillance power granted to the public sector under any law other than the Snoopers' Charter itself or the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) now can't be exercised unless your telco or Royal Mail (or parcel courier, for that matter) can be persuaded to hand over access to your communications."

    So, essentially, they have reduced the powers of RIPA, but if the telco or postal can be "persuaded", then they will hand over the data anyway ???

    What if the telco or postal think, maybe we ought to charge for this - and so it then becomes a profit decision for the postal/telco.

    I think the law should be changed to notify that the person has been investigated by non-criminal bodies, maybe 1 year after the investigation - so we the people can then decide for ourselves about any abuse of power.

    1. David Shaw

      Re: Still a Very Bad Law

      strangely enough, I was phoned by my (italian) bank to come and sign to accept an anti-terrorism check on my finances, under the strict Italian privacy laws. They mentioned that 'it was purely routine' but it wasn't.

      I have evidence that my house was broken into at the same time. I still haven't been notified that I have been the subject of a non-criminal investigation. It might be fun one day to ask a bit.

      That's what happens when you sit as an official observer on some rather serious telco standards bodies for retained data, so now who else was on that committee?, hmm - the 3 russians busy with SORM & SORM II, the british 'expert' liasing with huawei UK research, the chinese themselves and then rather a lot of......

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the Stasi

    at the Local Council and their non-digital antics ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about the Stasi

      Not sure why you got downvoted.

      I have seen a council small van parked up, with a person sitting in it, watching - multiple times in different locations.

      I was riding my bike on the pavement in the instances involved (nutter drivers in lorries speeding on B roads). So i asked what he was doing - as the van had darkened windows at the side for rear seat passengers. He replied that he was checking for streets being clean. Not sure why he needed to sit and wait, and it wasn't bin day either in both instances.

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "must now get the permission of your telco or postal service"

    I wonder how hard that will be - most likely "roll over and hand over"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "must now get the permission of your telco or postal service"

      Besides, if it's something so sensative/personal that it's deemed to require permission, what the hell have the telco or postal service got to do with being able to authorise it?

      When did they become judges? Just because they carry the data, it doesn't give them carte blanche to access it.

    2. Dunstan Vavasour


      Well, my ISP is Andrews and Arnold, and I'm pretty confident they won't hand over data unless compelled. And as far as I remember they don't store much of the telltale data, such as DNS logs, anyway.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    We need a test case

    Any telco or other organ that parts with data because it was 'asked nicely' needs to be taken to court preferably by as many people as possible, so the a precedent can be set on what, when and to whom, data can be released.

    Otherwise there is no real difference to before.

  7. LucreLout


    anyone trying to spy on your communications data must now get the permission of your telco or postal service - or convince a judicial commissioner to sign off a warrant forcing disclosure

    Wait, what? Permission of my telco should be trivial to get - the council can just clag them on the PSL and they'll bend and receive. Permission of the postal service.... so just ask Royal Mail? WTF have those dinosaurs got to do with anything? I'm not sure what I've missed here but I hope its something....

    The judge bit is a good move.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: ???

      "so just ask Royal Mail? WTF have those dinosaurs got to do with anything? I'm not sure what I've missed here but I hope its something...."

      I seem to remember that the Royal Mail has its own police and prosecutions team for historical reasons.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: ???

        The Royal Mail, and most other country's postal services have the longest tradition of providing lawful(ish) intercept services.. So their 'Black Chambers', where correspondence between suspected miscreants could be opened, examined, and then sent on. Plus powers to open & inspect packages for illegal stuff, hence why postal services can have some LEA-type powers. I think in the US, their USPS Postal Inspectors have more powers than some other policing agencies.

  8. codejunky Silver badge

    More government!

    Slow moving and self serving makes it difficult to move the government to change direction. Hopefully a reminder to people who want more government

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: More government!

      Just privatize all the snooping and the arrests to the Free Market ! Which always acts to the benefit of everyone...

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: More government!


        "Just privatize all the snooping and the arrests to the Free Market ! Which always acts to the benefit of everyone..."

        Please tell me that isnt an attempt to justify the total failure by pointing out another way to totally fail? Surely there is a better way, which probably involves people being allowed some measure of privacy and not all free until a chosen public sector peeper wants to violate you.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regarding Bury Council and expecting their employees to do what they are paid to do

    If I pay you to do some work for me, what should I do if I find you are also doing work for someone else at my expense rather than charging them for it?

    Somebody - Bury's residents in this case - were paying to have their rubbish collected. The newsagent should have been paying commercial rates to have his commercial rubbish collected but it's the residents who ended up paying for it. And then Bury's residents got to pay a second time because where does the council get its money from to pay the fine? But 'Yay' for those people sticking it to the Council! Power to the People!

    And some people wonder why local government has a hard time balancing the books.

    1. Stork

      Re: Regarding Bury Council and expecting their employees to do what they are paid to do

      If they had a reasonable suspicion, perhaps they could get a warrant?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There must be a catch.

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