This year will see the introduction by the UK government of new regulations that will extend the power of security services to monitor information. The so called ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ contains proposals that include collection and of people’s personal data, monitoring what people look at on the web, and tracking their use of phones and social media. The draft legislation is undergoing a thorough examination by the draft investigatory powers bill scrutiny committee.

The proposed legislation will give security services and police the power to collect personal web and phone data and hack computers in bulk, known as “computer network exploitation”

Unsurprisingly, this has come in for a great deal of comment as many commentators see it as a threat to an individual’s human right to privacy.  The United Nations has expressed concern saying the proposed laws will “unduly interfere with the rights to privacy, freedom of opinion and expression … both inside and outside the United Kingdom”

On top of that organisations that include Facebook, Twitter and Google have openly criticised the proposed legislation.  They have all said the UK government’s surveillance plans could have “far reaching implications” around the world, will undermine trust and parts of it are a “step in the wrong direction.” They have argued that individual accounts and users should be targeted instead.

Britain’s defence and security industry have added to the debate by stating the bill will only have a shelf life of five years, due to the pace of change in technology.  A recent submission on behalf of British aerospace, defence, security and space industries to the scrutiny committee made the point that the accelerating pace of technology means the government’s landmark snooper’s charter will become outdated within five years.

Even though the debate has focussed on so called ‘data mining’ many in the CCTV industry are now asking questions about the impact the new legislation may have.

The draft Bill will bring together all interception powers currently under RIPA and the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. The rules that control and restrict collection, storage, retention, and use of visual information in government databases look to continue. In addition, the requirement for local councils and police forces who use video surveillance cameras to comply with a code of conduct will remain in place.

However, the implications of the new legislation for the CCTV industry are still under scrutiny, as there may be some extension of the way that material and hardware can be used. The draft bill includes sections that deal with ‘communication equipment’. Whilst CCTV technology is not specified it is likely that it will be included in specific guidance.

The bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons later this spring.