“Universal Surveillance”: Is This What Britain’s
‘Snoopers Charter’ Will Be Used For Eventually?
One should wonder where the universal surveillance system dubbed the ‘snoopers charter’ installed by
Britain’s government is heading for eventually. Recently described by Edward Snowden in tweets as the
“most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West” and its “a comprehensive record of
your private activities, the activity log of your life,” – it should really make you ask that question.
Before we consider where this system is potentially going, it should be understood what the government is capable of when it comes to creating an act and then abusing it. Let’s take the the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).
RIPA was primarily defined as a legal framework to combat serious crime and terrorism: “In the interests of national security (including terrorism), for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder, in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom, in the interests of public safety, for the purpose of protecting public health.” Four iterations later in 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2015 and the Act has widened out dramatically.
Soon after Theresa May at the Home Office got her knees under the table, the use of RIPA caused headlines such as: “Official complaint over police use of Ripa against journalists” (The Guardian) and “BBC uses anti-terror spy powers to track down licence fee dodgers” (Daily Mail).
Then we found that local councils were using this act designed to catch serious criminals and terrorists to hunt down non-payment of council tax. Indeed, 11 councils every day were conducting thousands of covert surveillance operations across the country for this purpose alone.