The possible issues with a 'snoopers' charter'

ISP costs could be passed to consumers.

The government’s aim is relatively simple, to get new powers to look at your online life, if it has a strong enough reason to do so.

The Home Secretary wants to bring in a new law which includes forcing internet companies to keep details of people’s online activity for up to a year.

It’s been called a “snoopers’ charter” by critics, but ministers claim they’re not interested in people’s private lives, unless they are a threat.

But there could be some issues.

Newsbeat has been talking to one security expert to get his thoughts on how it might affect you.


“Many of these companies [internet providers] will have to retain large volumes of information,” says James Lyne from online security firm Sophos.

“That will cost them money. They’re going to have to hold all that data in a searchable and secure way.

“Many of these companies will end up passing those costs onto the customer.”


The Home Secretary Theresa May argues some sites have become “safe havens” for criminals and terrorists, which is why she wants these new powers brought in.

At the moment intelligence agencies can look at your phone records without having to get government authorisation. Ministers want that to be the same with online material.

But James Lyne doesn’t think it will be easy.

“Over the past few years with growing security paranoia, there’s been more deployment of encryption,” he says.

“When you use WhatsApp or iMessage, and you send a message to a friend of yours, it’s sent up to Apple servers, they then hand it to the other device which decrypts it.”

But James believes allowing even a little access for a selected few could lead to more problems.

“If you set up something that has a back door in it, we by definition have made it less secure than it was before, and more vulnerable to parties that you don’t trust like cyber criminals.”

MPs will now look over this draft law, before voting on whether to pass it next year. Despite seeing some clear issues, James thinks it could work.

“The debate is less about whether it’s useful.

“We all want to stop crime, we all want to be safer. The rub between industry and government comes with the issue of privacy.”