[1/1/16] The UK’s Investigatory Powers Act is now in effect, placing Britain under some of the widest-ranging spying powers ever seen.
The law – passed last month but going into effect on 30 December – is intended as an update to Britain’s often unwieldy surveillance legislation. But it also includes a large set of new powers – including the ability to collect the browsing records of everyone in the country and have them read by authorities as diverse as the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Most of the central parts of the act are now in force. That includes new powers to gather and retain data on citizens, and new ways to force technology companies and others to hand over the data that they have about people to intelligence agencies.
Many of the most invasive powers in the bill haven’t yet gone into force. That includes, for instance, the collection of those Internet Connection Records, which has been postponed until the government and internet companies have worked out how they can collect such information safely.
The government has argued that the powers introduced in the bill are necessary to allow intelligence agencies and police to stop modern crime and prosecute the people involved in it.