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Is this 'going too far'? (Read 704 times)
Full Member

Posts: 235
Eggington, Bedfordshire
Gender: male
Is this 'going too far'?
Apr 24th, 2020, 10:33am
Why should the UK Pensions Watchdog be able to spy on your internet activities?
Same reason as the Environment Agency and many more.

Extraordinary surveillance powers set to be injected into Gov't organisations.

It has been called the “most extreme surveillance in the history of Western democracy”  and has not once but twice been found to be illegal.
It sparked the largest ever protest by senior lawyers who called it “not fit for purpose.”

And now the UK's Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 (aka the Snooper’s Charter) is set to be expanded to allow Government agencies you may never have heard of to trawl through your web histories, emails, or mobile phone records.

In a memorandum first spotted by The Guardian, the British government is asking that five more public authorities be added to the list of bodies that can access data scooped up under the nation's mass-surveillance laws. These include the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Environment Agency, the Insolvency Service, the UK National Authority for Counter Eavesdropping (UKNACE), and the Pensions Regulator.  The memo explains why each should be given these extraordinary powers, in general and specifically. In general, the five agencies “are increasingly unable to rely on local police forces to investigate crimes on their behalf,” and so should be given direct access to the data pipe itself. The Pensions Regulator - which checks that companies have added their employees to their pension schemes - needs to be able to delve into anyone’s emails so it can “secure compliance and punish wrongdoing.”

Taken together, these requests reflect exactly what critics of the Investigatory Powers Act feared would happen: that a once-shocking power that was granted on the back of terrorism fears is being slowly extended to even the most obscure government agency for no reason other that it will make bureaucrats' lives easier.

None of the agencies would be required to apply for warrants to access people’s internet connection data, and they would be added to another 50-plus agencies that already have access, including the Food Standards Agency, Gambling Commission, and NHS Business Services Authority.

One of the biggest concerns remains that there are insufficient safeguards in place to prevent the system being abused; concerns that only grow as the number of people that have access to the country's electronic communications grows. It is also still not known precisely how all these agencies access the data that is accumulated, or what restrictions are in place beyond a broad-brush “double lock” authorization process that requires a former judge (a Judicial Commissioner, or JC) to approve a Minister’s approval.

A report published earlier this month by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner's Office (IPCO), which was setup to oversee the spying law, covering 2018, gave the entire process a clean bill of health ... while revealing a self-contained process brimming with self-congratulation. “We have been increasingly impressed by the advantage of IPCO’s dual role: first, undertaking the review of warrants and, second, having retrospective oversight of the use of investigatory powers,” the report noted. “JCs regularly ask the inspectors to focus on particular issues during the latter’s’ oversight visits, and the inspectors similarly share information relevant to the warrantry process with the JCs. In other words, these two functions – warrantry and ex post facto (retrospective) inspection – serve significantly to enhance each other and the confidence in the overall system.”
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