If you’ve ever had a read of Theresa’s May proposed Snooper’s Charter bill and thought you’d fallen right into a dystopian nightmare, you’re not alone.
New research reveals that the Home Secretary’s Draft Investigatory Powers Bill is actually stranger than fiction, with 62% of people believing excerpts from the Snooper’s Charter were actually taken from dystopian stories like 1984, Brave New World, The Matrix, and The Hunger Games.
The Snooper’s Charter is a draft bill that, if accepted, would force Internet Service Providers to retain a history of the websites visited by every UK citizen on a rolling one-year basis. The charter also lets UK police and intelligence officers access this data without a warrant. The bill would even allow spies to film people using their private webcams in secret.
Today’s study, which was conducted by Censuswide and commissioned by VPN service HideMyAss, surveyed 1,267 UK adults and found that two thirds of respondents confused at least one Snooper’s Charter quote with a fictional work.
UK Home Secretary Theresa May, who masterminded the Snooper's Charter
Worryingly, one-fifth of people thought the quotes were from George Orwell’s 1984, 10% thought they were from Enemy of the State, and 7% thought they were from The Hunger Games. Worse still, 8% of those polled through the excerpts were from North Korean propaganda.
Here are the six excerpts from the real Snooper’s Charter that were shown to participants:
- “It is the duty of an operator on whom a requirement or restriction is imposed by to comply with the requirement or restriction.”
- “Any authorisation data which is obtained under the filtering arrangements in pursuance of an authorisation is immediately destroyed”
- “The Information Commissioner must not disclose the existence or contents of a retention notice to any other person.”
- “The law enforcement chief considers that the warrant is necessary for the purpose of preventing death or injury”
- “Signals serving either for the impartation of anything between persons, between a person and a thing or between things or for the actuation or control of any apparatus”
- “Obtaining communications or other information…by monitoring, observing or listening to a person’s communications.”
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The Snooper’s Charter is currently under scrutiny by a joint committee in Parliament. Some parts of the bill – specifically surrounding bulk data acquisition – already came into effect in November 2015, prior to parliamentary scrutiny.
“The Snooper’s Charter is bewildering in its current form and would allow the government to pry into our lives via technology that has seriously sinister abilities,” said Danvers Baillieu, COO at HideMyAss. “Whilst we’re not suggesting that Theresa May is quite as manipulative as The Hunger games’ President Snow, the fact remains that the Snooper’s Charter has little regard for our privacy, and is therefore unsurprisingly difficult to distinguish from dystopian fiction.”
Baillieu continued: “We firmly believe that everyone is entitled to a private digital life – free from unnecessary intrusions. As a result, we’re seeing growing numbers of everyday web users using Virtual Private Networks to protect their personal data from prying eyes.”
In a recent interview with TrustedReviews, Mark Surman, the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, revealed he was concerned that many politicians are “clueless about the internet”.
“I’m deeply worried that our political leaders and government are not sophisticated in their understanding of the internet and what it means for society,” Surman told us.
He continued: “It’s a huge risk, and it’s the reason that we see bad laws coming forward like the Snooper’s Charter.”
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Are you worried by the Snooper’s Charter? Tell us why – or why not – in the comments.