Picture this, you're walking along the street minding your own, when suddenly a stranger asks to see what's on your phone. If you refuse they try to look at it anyway so they can see what websites you've been browsing, who you've been WhatsApping and who all your friends are.
Chances are you wouldn't react to that intrusion favorably, you might even utter a few curse words and tell them where to go. That's what happens in this video when British comedian Olivia Lee takes to the streets to ask random passersby if she can snoop on their phones.
They all do exactly what any of us would, respond with outrage and anger at how she has the audacity to ask such a thing. But it's exactly what the British government are trying to do. The personal and sensitive information Lee wants to peek at is the sort of information that various public bodies would have unburdened access to if the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snoopers' Charter) becomes law.
The video featuring Lee is created by Liberty, the human rights organisation, and creative agency Don’t Panic to draw people's attention to how invasive the new bill will be. For the film they used hidden cameras to get people's reactions to Lee trolling them with her invasive behavior.
If you're not aware the bill, which is at this very moment being rushed through the British parliament, means telecommunications companies will be able to store all our data from our communications activities for a whole year. This includes every site we visit, every communication programme and app we use, every system update we download and details of any device we use to go online. And the public will be paying for this monitoring too.
It would also legalise mass hacking of phones and other devices by the intelligence agencies, bulk interception of calls, emails, online exchanges and texts meaning they could acquire vast databases containing personal information on millions of people. It would also mean powers to force telecoms operators here and abroad, from Gmail, Facebook and Twitter to offices, businesses and law firms, to remove encryption – and ban them from revealing they have been forced to do so.
"As this film shows, people in Britain value their personal privacy—even Home Office staff are unwilling to reveal their phone records for no good reason." Bella Sankey policy director for Liberty said. "But the government’s latest Snoopers’ Charter would make everyone’s online activity available to the authorities to speculatively trawl through without good reason and without us ever being told. It will all but end online privacy, put our personal security at risk and swamp law enforcement with swathes of useless information. People need to make it clear to MPs—we don’t want the Government building profiles of our personal lives with no justification and this bill must stopped.”
If you disagree with the bill sign up to Liberty's No #SnoopersCharter campaign and urge MPs to reject the bill when they vote on it this summer. "This is one of the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regimes in the world." says Liberty. "There is a consensus from service providers, tech experts and three cross-party parliamentary committees that its plans are unclear, unworkable and potentially unlawful."