(Pocket-lint) - Much has been said in the build up to the British Government's publication of its new Investigatory Powers Bill, but now it is available for all to see, the details are more clear.
The bill is only in the draft stage at present and none of its proposals have yet been passed into law, but there are some measures that have worried citizens, especially those concerned about their right to privacy when browsing online.
That's why we've put together the highlights of the bill as it could affect you if voted in. But don't worry, the Apple iPhone will not be banned from sale in the UK, like some have suggested.
Why does the Investigatory Powers Bill exist?
The Government claims that it requires greater control for British intelligence agencies to track and gather data from individuals' online activities and digital communications. This is mainly to track and convict paedophiles and terrorists, it is claimed, but could also affect everybody as it is a blanket proposal. "Powers to intercept communications, acquire communications data and interfere with equipment are essential to tackle child sexual exploitation, to dismantle serious crime cartels, take drugs and guns off our streets and prevent terrorist attacks," writes the Home Secretary, Theresa May, in the forward of the draft bill.
How will the Investigatory Powers Bill affect me?
If passed into law in the new year, the new powers granted to the intelligence services mean that they would have access to everything you have done online or through your phone. Lists of every website you visit and applications you use will legally be available to the services in case they need to track your communications.
What they still will not be able to do is force the website or communications service to un-encrypt and release individual conversations. For example, while the Government will be able to see when and where you accessed WhatsApp, it cannot see what you discussed in chat. The same is true for other social networks.
Websites and app services will have to keep hold of all visitor data for a year under the new proposals. Again, it's more the fact you visited the site rather than anything encrypted you did there, but every communications service provider will be affected.
Internet service providers will also be required under law to aid authorities in accessing private data if requested. And there are suggestions that the Government would have the legal power to hack devices with ISP and communication providers' aid if the owner is thought to be involved in serious crime.
How will the Investigatory Powers Bill be enforced and policed?
If the bill is approved, a new team of judges will form the Investigatory Powers Commission which will approve or deny requests on a case by case basis. All applications to intercept communications will also need to be approved by the Home Secretary.
The Home Secretary will also be able to approve a request for data without judicial approval if the suspected crime is urgent, such as immediate danger to lives.
Why did some reports suggest the iPhone would be banned?
Previous proposals are said to have contained a clause that stated that no encrypted device could be sold in the UK. That could have included the iPhone, as one example.
However, that part of the bill is no longer included and there will be no changes as to the current powers the Government holds on encrypted information.
Are there any other proposals in the bill I should be worried about?
There are plenty of other proposals as not all of them are technology centric.
Where can I read the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill myself?
The full 299-page document is available to download or read on gov.uk here.