Britain debates tighter surveillance laws in wake of Paris attack

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

British politicians are currently debating whether or not their nation should attempt to bring in new laws that would make online surveillance easier after recent events in Paris raised concerns over the country’s security.

In light of recent events Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that his party (the Conservatives) would push for ‘comprehensive legislation’ that would grant further powers for intelligence agencies if elected in the upcoming May general election.

The proposed changes, which are being dismissed as a ‘snooper’s charter’ by critics, would give intelligence agencies the right to further monitor internet and telephone data in Britain. Although the exact nature of the proposed changes is not confirmed Cameron stated that new laws would stop platforms that enabled encrypted data that couldn’t be accessed without a warrant.

Critics of the proposed changes were quick to point out that under Cameron’s definition many online services would be highly limited or completely outlawed if legislation were changed.

The list of services that would be under threat under proposed legislation includes messenger services such as Whatsapp and Snapchat, as well as the Conservative’s own website.

The proposed changes have been highly criticised by several groups, as well as opposition parties and privacy advocates, who claim that any changes would be an infringement on the country’s civil liberties. Many individuals raised concerns that the recent Paris attacks were being exploited in order to introduce the new laws.

Several groups also accused Prime Minister Cameron of attempting to sway voters in the run up to elections by attempting to appear decisive in a rising climate of fear.

In a recent event held earlier this week leader of the opposition Labour Party Ed Milliband also spoke against any changes. He pledged that online messenger services would be protected if his party were elected later this year.

Despite widespread unpopularity the proposal however was supported by many. In a rare public speech made earlier this week Andrew Parker, the head of Britain’s internal intelligence agency MI5 came out in support of change:

“My sharpest concern as director general of MI5 is the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capabilities to address it”, he told journalists.

News of the proposed changes comes after politicians from several European nations raised concerns over Europe’s ability to fight the threat of terrorism.

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