Theresa May Says Surveillance Bill Will Not Give Police Browser History Access

Theresa May angered many members of the UK public last week with the announcement of the new surveillance bill going through on Wednesday. The bill that has been part of the dubbed Snoopers Charter says that police will gain access to web history. However, she now says that police will not have access to a person’s browser or search history.

The aim of the bill is to tackle against online crimes. This is not just about tackling terrorism and radicalization, but also tackling child pornography and other online crimes. It used to be that most people could be tracked through CCTV, but now a lot of activity takes place at home online. The new surveillance bill will mean that police have easier access to information.

Police Will Not Have Browser History Access, Says Theresa May
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While police will get access to web addresses, they will not be able to see which pages have been visited. It will also limit the amount that police will know about the websites being visited. The bill requires all internet companies to keep information of all customers for 12 months, and a warrant will be required should further information need to be accessed, according to Today Online.

Before now, the Snoopers Charter was a way for police to gain access to all communication between members of the public. The original bill was blocked by the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition government, but with the Conservatives having a slim majority this time, there is more of a chance of getting it through. That being said, May has opted for a scaled-back version of the bill. It will not be as intrusive, as critics have complained that the public’s right to privacy will be affected.

Theresa May went on to say that the new surveillance bill does not mean companies will store third-party information. It is purely information that the companies collect themselves about their customers.

Since 2013, many experts around the world have debated how to keep people protected online while not breaching their right to privacy. This new bill that gives police the power to access some browser information is something some MPs and members of the House of Lords are worried about. They believe that it could be a step too far, but May argues that so much happens online that it is important for individual safety.

There have been fears that the decision to bring in the new bill would lead to another revolt from the House of Lords. David Cameron and George Osborne were angered last week when the House of Lords rejected tax credit cut plans. They claimed it was a constitutional problem, as unelected people were able to stop a bill from the elected. This has not stopped the House of Lords from acting out against the government in the past. Many in the House of Lords are worried about the privacy aspect.

Theresa May Says Police Will Not Get Browser History Access In New Bill
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It is a problem for the Conservatives, who only have a third of the House of Lords in its party. The Liberal Democrats and Labour both have a large enough voice to prevent a Conservative bill from going through.

Many have also accused May of stepping back on her original surveillance bill plans, according to the Daily Mail. There were original plans to allow police to have full access to browser history. However, there are still concerns over how police will get warrants to gain full access to browser history. Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham wants only judges to be able to issue warrants, but current plans show that politicians could, too. He believes that it is not up to politicians to issue warrants on such a major privacy concern. Theresa May says she currently gets more than 1,400 warrants a year for access to browser history and encrypted information.

[Featured photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]