U.K. Spying Law Needs More Privacy Rules, Parliament Group Says

  • Bill gives too much bulk access to user information, data
  • Current draft suffers from lack of time and preparation

The U.K.’s proposed spying law doesn’t offer enough privacy protection and gives intelligence agencies too much bulk access to personal information, according to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, one of several bodies scrutinizing the proposed bill.

While the committee supports authorities’ investigatory powers in Internet and phone communications, the current draft “appears to have suffered from a lack of sufficient time and preparation,” it said in a statement Tuesday.

Among concerns in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill -- dubbed the Snooper’s Charter by critics -- are bulk hacking powers for authorities to tap into smartphones and others devices as well as bulk access to users’ Internet and phone data - the majority of which will not be of concern to authorities. Some form of the bill must be passed by the end of this year to replace an expiring data retention act. 

Earlier this month, the parliament’s science and technology committee said the draft law could damage technology and telecommunications companies with costs to store users’ data and by requiring them to help U.K. authorities hack their systems.

A number of companies, including BT Group Plc, TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc, Google and Facebook Inc., have expressed concerns over the draft for its potential to undermine customers’ trust and weaken encryption, allowing authorities to invade privacy.