The Risks

An end to privacy

The IPBill will give the state unprecedented access to your private data. Your web browsing history and app use will be collected; every public and private database you are on can be analysed; your personal communications data will be scooped up. The indiscriminate collection of our data is a mass violation of privacy and a reversal of the presumption of innocent until proven guilty.

A threat to free speech

Since 2013, the UK has dropped eight places to 38th in the World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders. One of the reasons for this is that: “Terrorist attacks have led to the adoption of draconian security legislation.” The surveillance powers in the IPBill undermine journalists' ability to protect the confidentiality of sources confidential and to keep whistleblowers safe. 

Following the Snowden revelations, PEN America published a global survey on the impact of mass surveillance on writers, which showed that “the levels of self­censorship reported by writers living in democratic countries are approaching the levels reported by writers in authoritarian or semi-democratic countries.”

An attack on Internet Security

The IPBill gives the state the power to hack individuals’ devices and entire networks. They do not have to be under suspicion but can be hacked in order to reach a target. Tech UK said that these powers were so dangerous they “threaten the security of the Internet” (PDF, see p1270).

Loss of trust in the state

Psychological studies have found that surveillance can undermine trust citizens’ trust in the state, and actually undermine its authority.

Mass surveillance could disproportionately generate loss of trust and confidence among particular groups who are at risk of disaffection. According to research by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, British Muslims already appear to feel disproportionately targeted by counter­terrorism measures.

Complaints include the way Muslims are treated when travelling through airports and the existence of CCTV programmes such as Champion in Birmingham, which focused on Muslim neighbourhoods (PDF).

International repercussions

The IPBill could be one of the most extreme surveillance laws to take effect in a democracy. If passed, it is likely to be used to justify similar legislation around the world, including in authoritarian regimes or countries with lower human rights standards than the UK. In December 2015, China passed a surveillance law with similar powers to the IPBill, which was widely criticised. The Chinese Government said that it took inspiration from the US and UK.