Investigatory power: May makes it must

Friday 18th November 2016

Brexit (and Trump's election) have started a new era in UK and Europe, marked by new laws and regulations. One particular piece of legislation just enacted is the Investigatory Powers Bill - Prime Minister Theresa May's brain child - that establishes the most intrusive online surveillance anywhere in the West.

Theresa May, seen as the villain of the Internet privacy rights community, has been fighting for strengthening surveillance and taking away privacy from British citizens ever since she was a Home Secretary. It seems as if her goal is now achieved: after making all the legislative rounds, the law has passed, giving government unparalleled powers to snoop on citizens¹ web records, intercept their communications, and even hack into people¹s smartphones.

Some of the features of the bill include:

  • Bulk hacking. All new powers for UK intelligence agencies for the bulk collection and interception of communications for those who do not live in the UK - also known as bulk hacking; it can affect entire foreign regions that UK might decide to investigate;
  •  Keeping records for 1year a requirement for ISPs, allowing intelligence officers to view these records without a warrant;
  • Hacking.permission for police and intelligence agencies to hack into computers and devices;
  • A legal obligation for ISPs to assist in data interception and hacking, including help in decryption.

Opening a door for government to access web browsing data and metadata makes everyone¹s online activity vulnerable as the open gap can be potentially exploited by hackers and fraudsters or affected by system dysfunctions. Furthermore, accessing and later sharing the vulnerable information among government agencies and those collecting the data (i.e. UK ISPs) might be a big threat in itself, as private data can be mishandled or intercepted.

Solution: VPNs

Since Internet-enabled devices will now be significantly less secure in UK, more users than ever are searching to find ways to strengthen their online privacy and protection. Many become first-time subscribers to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) that offer a strong data encryption, going beyond a device¹s built-in protections, which might soon be weakened even further.

VPN ­ such as NordVPN - encrypts user's internet traffic data through a secure tunnel before accessing the Internet. This protects any sensitive information about location, by hiding an IP address. Virtual Private Networks connect a user to Internet through an alternative path. All other information is encrypted by the VPN security protocol. This is handy when a user doesn¹t want their real IP traced back to them. NordVPN has seen an increase in enquiries from British Internet users since the time that UK Investigatory Powers Bill was being scheduled to move to House of Commons in March.

NordVPN to Double Encryption in UK
Following similar surveillance law introduction in Russia, NordVPN has just doubled the encryption in UK. Double VPN servers UK-NL and NL-UK will ensure the traffic is encrypted twice and securely tunneled between the two servers. As additional precaution, NordVPN recommends that UK customers use custom NordVPN apps, which have toughest security protocols by default. Using NordVPN apps also ensures access to up-to-date updates and access to the latest servers. NordVPN has a strict no log policy. Therefore, all online activity of NordVPN users is not only safely encrypted, but it is never recorded.

NordVPN, like many other VPN service providers, believes in barrier-free Internet and online privacy, and feels that instead of weakening online encryption,  that the governments should rather be working towards protecting people¹s privacy and online security.

 NordVPN on UK Snooper¹s Charter 

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