“The revised bill is both clearer and stronger in protecting privacy,” said home secretary Theresa May.
The latest version attempts to clarify that a company will only be forced to remove “electronic protections”, such as encryption, that it has applied to users’ messages when it is “technically feasible” to do so.
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Lots of the emails in my inbox think they know what I want.
They think, for example, that because I once booked a train ticket to visit a friend in Yorkshire, I will probably want to book train tickets to Yorkshire every week.
Security services will also still be permitted to hack phones and computers en masse to gather surveillance data in the new bill.
The government refers to this as “bulk equipment interference” and it is a key issue for the new legislation, which seeks to clarify the legal basis for the kind of actions revealed by Edward Snowden.
The UK government is pushing ahead with plans to update surveillance laws, despite criticism from privacy activists, communications firms and three parliamentary committees.