ISPA Names Theresa May ‘Internet Villain Of The Year’ Over Surveillance Fears

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Industry body ISPA says ISPs must be consulted about revived Snoopers’ Charter as issue of surveillance dominates again at the UK Internet Industry Awards

Communications providers must be consulted by the government about any plans to introduce a new Snoopers’ Charter that could grant UK security services greater surveillance powers, according to the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA).

Home Secretary Theresa May announced her intention to revive the Draft Communications Bill on Election Night after it became clear the Conservative Party was to win a majority and former collation partners the Liberal Democrats could no longer block the legislation.

May was named ‘Internet Villain of the year’ at ISPA’s UK Internet Industry Awards for pushing through the bill, which will not only allow the tracking of people’s web and social media use, but also strengthen the abilities for the bulk interception of the content of communications, without consulting society of the telecoms industry.

Internet Villain of the Year

theresa-mayConversely, MPs David Davis and Tom Watson were named joint ‘Internet heroes of the year” for their attempts to protect citizens’ privacy and promote the debate in parliament. The judges noted that surveillance had dominated both the hero and villain categories for some year now, but it was felt the two men were the best informed politicians on the subject.

Elsewhere, Hyperoptic was named best superfast broadband and best consumer fixed broadband provider, while Entanet won the SMB category and Bridge Fibre was victorious in the enterprise award. Keycom won best wireless provider while F-Secure took home the security award.

“Congratulations to all the winners. With ISPA celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the ISPAs show the continued strength and diversity of the UK Internet industry as the UK economy moves ever more online,” said Nick Lansman, ISPA Secretary General. “The Hero and Villain Awards also show that industry needs to be included in the surveillance debate.”

Following the attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, Prime Minister David Cameron called for powers to allow spies to access the content of encrypted communications and announced such plans during the Queen’s Speech in May, following the election victory.

In any case, new legislation will be needed at some point as the emergency Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) bill, which requires telcos to store and provide access to communications records for 12 months, is due to expire in December 2016.

Both the French and Australian governments have made moves to increase state surveillance and facilitate the collection of communications metadata in recent months, although the US Court of Appeals has ruled the NSA’s mass collection of phone records is illegal.

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