Crowdfunded challenge to ‘snoopers’ charter’ launched by Open Rights Group

© Lionel Bonaventure
Open Rights Group civil liberties campaigners are trying to raise £20,000 to fund a challenge to the Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB), branded the “snoopers’ charter” by its detractors, which is expected to come into law in the coming months.

The group, which has so far raised more than £12,000 toward its target, aims to build an open information source on the IPB that can be accessed by anyone. 

The draft bill, presented to parliament in November, is currently being scrutinized by a select committee of Lords and MPs, which will present its findings next month.

The IPB has been created to give the security services more surveillance powers. Home Secretary Theresa May insists the bill is integral to preventing terrorism and catching criminals by tracking their internet and communications data.

The legislation was drafted after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2012 revelations, which showed that the UK had been illegally gathering data for years.

If the legislation comes into force, internet companies will be required to store a list of every website visited by every customer for a period of 12 months.

Open Rights Group aims to launch a public information campaign about the bill, including a short film explaining how mass surveillance works and its implications for internet users.

So far, the group’s Indiegogo page has received £12,500 in donations, with just five days left to donate.

“The public have… been repeatedly told that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. We need to challenge this sweeping statement and show people just what is at stake. We may not have things to hide but we all have things we want to keep private, safe and secure. If this bill is passed, there can be no guarantee that we can do this,” the group writes on its campaign page.

The group says it hopes to launch the film next month, to coincide with the select committee’s report and to put pressure on the MPs to propose changes to the bill.

“The government is using fear of terrorism to persuade the public that they should give up their rights. We need to show more members of the public that what the government is proposing is mass surveillance and it does have serious implications for their privacy and security. We have just a few months to persuade them, the media and our MPs that this draft law needs to be changed before it is passed by parliament.”