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Here’s How To Stop The Government Spying On Your Internet History

‘It’s not about something to hide. It’s about something to lose.’

Over the past few days there has been a lot of talk surrounding the government’s plans to introduce new legislation which would allow them to view your internet history. Essentially the bill, which has been nicknamed the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, calls on Internet service providers (ISPs) to store your internet and phone usage data for a minimum of 12 months and is a complete overhaul of current surveillance laws.

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This is not the first time that the Conservatives have tried to get the bill through parliament, with the Liberal Democrats blocking it in the Coalition government. This time round the Conservatives have faced less adversity from their peers but understandably the public are outraged. Last night thousands of people took to the streets of London, partly in protest of the proposed measures, and things quickly turned volatile. Several high profile individuals, including whistle blower Edward Snowden have also condemned the bill on social media:

Other opposers include civil liberties groups, who all argue that the bill represents a gross invasion of privacy and is unnecessary.

Luckily, however, there is potentially a very simple way to get around the threat imposed by the Snooper’s Charter, and as a bonus it also means you can watch US Netflix in the UK, because why wouldn’t you want to do that? We all know the US version is infinitely better.

Virtual Private Networks – or VPNs – are a handy piece of software, usually paid for with a cheap subscription of £15-£20 per year, which scramble and encrypt your usage and data. The reason that they allow you to use US Netflix and other similar services whilst in the UK is that they also hide your geographic location. If you’ve ever used a public wifi hotspot you’ve likely already used a VPN as they are used to secure connections. Although they can slow down your internet and are not 100% preventative of interception, but they’re a far better alternative to having people freely able to see all that weird porn you’ve been watching.

It’s not yet clear how the government intend to deal with VPNs, in the bill they state:

It is the duty of a telecommunications operator who is obtaining or disclosing communications data, in response to a request or requirement for the data in pursuance of an authorisation, to obtain or disclose the data in a way that minimises the amount of data that needs to be processed for the purpose concerned.

Some have interpreted ‘telecommunications operator’ as encompassing VPN providers, however, since the point of VPN is that they usually aren’t in your country, the government would have very little luck trying to force providers outside of the UK to comply.

The real question here is, what does it say about our government if we are all forced into taking such extreme measures to prevent unwanted prying on our personal browsing habits. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so why aren’t we all being treated as such?


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