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    Why Should I Care About The Investigatory Powers Bill?

    Its difficult to care about a piece of legislation when you don't have a hope in hell of understanding what it actually says. So to help you out, we've broken it down for you.

    Do you like feeling watched?


    Nope, we don’t either.

    But the UK Government are determined to ensure we can all be watched a little bit more with a piece of law called the Investigatory Powers Bill.

    But what is it actually all about and should you care? Well, to help you out, we’ve broken down exactly what the Bill means for you.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Your browsing history will no longer be private


    Would you be embarrassed if someone saw your browsing history? Have you ever been on a website you don't want anyone else knowing about? Don’t worry, that’s normal. We've all had a look at sites or researched things we might not want other people to know.

    But under the Bill, our internet history and a log of all the apps we use will be stored for a year by our internet or phone company and will be handed over to the police, spies, tax man, even the NHS if they ask for it.

    They will even know you are on Buzzfeed right now...

    And don’t think your text messages and phonecalls are safe…


    Sending a text, going online, making a call, they're all a part of everyday life. Most of us can’t even function without our phone.

    But do you realise that your phone company will also know everything you do? They'll know when you do it, where you are and who you are talking to or texting.

    Under the Bill this information will then be shared with the police, spies, and even your local council official!

    They can’t hear what my calls actually say, right?


    Let’s be clear, its unlikely someone is going to listen to your phone calls unless you are really up to no good. But what actually happens is worse than this.

    Edward Snowden revealed that big chunks of the world's internet traffic is gathered up by spies and filtered to find people plotting attacks, looking at graphic images and any number of other criteria.

    Best not click on any dodgy links.. who knows who might be watching you.

    But I’m innocent, they won’t spy on me


    Do you live, study or work in the UK? Do you have a National Insurance Number? Have you ever used the tube, a train or taken a plane on holiday? Are you registered to vote?

    If you said yes to any of those questions, then you’re probably on what is called a Bulk Personal Dataset.

    Spies say they need them to “join the dots"; to find plots being formed by bad people. But it also means that they collect and analyse information on every one of us, just in case we happen to be a terrorist or up to no good. Nice.

    Good guys, bad guys, everyone's hacking now


    You know it as hacking, but when the authorities do it, it’s called Equipment Interference.

    Names aside, this Bill will allow spies, cops and the tax man to hack your phone, laptop, tablet, games console and Smart TV - that means they can turn on the cameras and microphones without you knowing and access your information.

    Think it can’t happen to you? Well between 2008 and 2011 British and American spies hacked the webcams of millions of Yahoo chat users. Every 5 minutes a photo was taken of innocent people chatting to friends and family on their webcams. Remember to wave next time!

    A caramel latte with an extra shot of surveillance, please


    Fancy being monitored whilst having a coffee? Under the Bill anyone providing a Wi-Fi service will have to store details of everyone that uses it, including detail on what websites they went on or apps they used.

    Browsing Facebook in Starbucks or looking at Instagram whilst hanging out at the shopping centre? The coffee shop, Wi-Fi provider and possibly the police will know all about it.

    Perhaps instant coffee isn’t so bad after all…

    Do they go to a judge like those American TV shows?


    Unlike American cop shows; police and spies in the UK don’t currently go to a judge before they can listen to someone’s calls or read their online messages. They just ask a Government Minister or someone from their own organisation.

    This Bill will change some of that, because a judge will now be involved.

    However the way the Bill describes their powers means they might not actually end up having much say, just asked to rubber stamp a decision someone else has already made.

    Everyone’s in on the act


    No one is going to argue that spies need to do their jobs, bad people should be caught and stopped from doing awful things, but does it mean that everyone should be watched, all of the time?

    Should we all be watched just in case one day we commit a crime? It's all a bit Minority Report.

    It's one thing to be watched by spies and police though, but do you really want the Government and a whole host of other authorities to know where you and what you are doing? Probably not, because its none of their business.

    So what can you do?


    The Investigatory Powers Bill is now being debated by MPs, and as you can see, it has huge implications for your online privacy.

    But don’t throw away your laptop or smartphone just yet, you can still have your say.

    We’ve broken down the main points of the Bill into 8 easy to read Factsheets, which can give you a bit more information on the proposals.

    If you want to take action on what you have read, check out our website for more information on how you can have your say!

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