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Small-scale networks face having to store Wi-Fi users’ data under snooper’s charter

20th Jan 2016

Small-scale Wi-Fi networks may have to store internet data under new snooping laws, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

Networks such as those in cafes, libraries and universities could find themselves targeted under the new legislation, forcing them to hand over customers’ confidential personal data tracking their web use.

The home secretary revealed that small-scale internet providers would not be excluded from the requirements of the snooper’s charter to store their customer’s internet records for up to 12 months.

“I do not think it would be right for us to exclude any networks,” said. “If you look at how people do their business these days, it is on the move.”

May rejected demands from the information commissioner and the defence and security industries that there should be a “sunset clause” on the legislation, meaning that it would be revisited within five to seven years to cope with the rapid pace of technological change. May insisted that the bill was “technology neutral” and fit for a rapidly changing technological world.

The home secretary was questioned by MPs and peers as to how the snooper’s charter would enforce legal notices requiring overseas internet and technology companies, such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, to store their customers’ communications data records for 12 months and to hand them over to British police and security agencies on request. May said they were still examining issues of “extra-territoriality”.

She did, however, attempt to reassure the scrutiny committee that judicial commissioners would have sufficient flexibility to examine decisions taken by cabinet ministers to order intrusive snooping operations.

The scrutiny committee has only had only two and a half months to examine the 300-page bill which is being introduced in the wake of disclosures by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, uncovering mass surveillance and bulk collection programmes operated by Britain’s GCHQ and the National Security Agency in the US. The committee is to produce its pre-legislative scrutiny report by 9 February prior to the bill’s second Commons reading.