Government can now access anyone’s internet history

02 December 2016

The Investigatory Powers will force internet providers to keep a full list of internet connection records, making it possible for a myriad of government bodies to access every UK citizen’s entire internet browsing history.

The Investigatory Powers Act means that internet providers must, by law, keep a full list of internet connection records (ICRs) for a year and make them available to the government if asked. Those ICRs in effect serve as a full list of every website that people have visited, rather than collecting which specific pages are visited or what is done on them.

ICRs will be made available to a wide range of government bodies. Those include expected law enforcement organisations such as the police, the military and the secret service and also bodies such as HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Protections have been given to MPs. Most of the strongest powers in the new law require that those using them must be given a warrant. For most people that warrant can be issued by a secretary of state. Applications are sent to senior ministers who can then approve either a targeted interception warrant or a targeted examination warrant, depending on what information the agency applying for the warrant .

But for members of parliament and other politicians, extra rules have been introduced. Those warrants must also be approved by the prime minister. That rule applies not only to members of the Westminster parliament but also politicians in the devolved assembly and members of the European Parliament.

ICRs will still be collected for politicians, since they will be done en masse by internet providers for all of their customers, but they won't be able to be accessed without a warrant.

Read more from the Independent.