04:43 GMT18 January 2021
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    Prominent online privacy activist and whistleblower Edward Snowden lauded the US tech giant Apple for siding with the public in the United Kingdom’s latest online surveillance bill on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The California-based company argued Britain's Draft Investigatory Powers Bill weakens security for regular users "so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat." Apple affirmed the company’s stance that it "should remain free to implement strong encryption to protect customers."

    "Apple's standing up to defend your rights against new total surveillance bill. Leadership," Snowden tweeted.

    ​The bill, introduced to the UK parliament on November 4, requires domestic communications companies to retain their customers' web browsing history for 12 months and provides police and intelligence services with access to such browsing and personal communication histories.

    The 12-month data retention requirement in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill is a holdover from a contentious surveillance bill, defeated in 2012, nicknamed the Snoopers’ Charter. UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration has long argued in favor of expanding surveillance in the country as a way to counter criminal and terrorist activity.

    Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May advertise the new legislation as a compromise between state powers and privacy, while rights groups contend the new measures bring Britain closer to being a surveillance state.

    May argued in introducing the bill that it would not ban encryption used by smartphone applications, capture and retain third-party traffic from overseas providers, or subject international providers to domestic retention obligations.

    British media cited sources saying last month the bill would allow intelligence agencies to install software, take photographs of targets and record conversations after obtaining warrants.

    Police have been lobbying the government to grant it expanded surveillance powers, arguing that the scale of online digital-based activities stymies traditional methods of surveillance and investigation.


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