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Theresa May handed ISPA Internet Villain of the Year gong

Home Secretary Theresa May has been singled out as the Villain of the Year by the Internet Service Providers’ Association. 

The trade body for the UK ISP industry had its annual bash this week and handed out plaudits to the likes of Hyperoptic for things like ‘Best Superfast Broadband’ ISP. 

As well as congratulating the efforts of bleeding-edge ultrafast fibre providers, ISPA also doles out its annual golden raspberry – and this time it’s May who’s up for a drubbing. 

Members voted to award May with the Internet Villain award after plans to soldier forward with the new Investigatory Powers Bill – thought to be a re-run of the defeated Communications Data Bill – without consulting the industry beforehand. 

The Bill is due to be presented before Parliament in the coming months and plans to ‘address ongoing capability gaps’ with current surveillance powers by ‘modernis[ing] our law in these areas.’ It’s unclear exactly what is meant by capability gaps, which laws need changing or even  what role ISPs will be expected to play.  

Theresa May was nominated for ISPA’s Internet Villain award in 2013 – missing out to GCHQ and the NSAISPA’s secretary general Nick Lansman said “With ISPA celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the ISPAs show the continued strength and diversity of the UK Internet industry as the UK economy moves ever more online. 

“The Hero and Villain Awards also show that industry needs to be included in the surveillance debate.”

Conversely, Tom Watson MP and David Davis MP were jointly named as the Internet Heroes of the year for their ongoing High Court challenge of DRIPA, beating out names like David Anderson QC, for his Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and Privacy International, who have striven to raise the profile of GCHQ spying.

Currently, UK ISPs are required to collect IP-related data – which security teams can use to determine who is talking to who, but not what they’re saying – and store it for up to 12 months under DRIPA (Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act). 

DRIPA is an emergency law which was quickly passed last year, in the wake of a ruling from the ECJ (European Court of Justice). 

The ECJ ruled that the RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act), which gave public bodies the right to demand that ISPs provide access to customer’s communications (amid other things) violated the human rights of British citizens and kicked it to the kerb. 

The government, worried that UK ISPs would start dumping data held on subscribers that could be useful to investigations, passed DRIPA as a temporary measure. DRIPA comes with a built-in sunset clause, meaning it’ll expire by December 2016, unless a new set of laws is given Royal Assent in the meantime. Enter the Investigatory Powers Bill. 

Last month, Davis, Watson and campaign group Liberty launched a legal challenge to DRIPA in the High Court, arguing that it’s incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights – which Theresa May wants the UK to withdraw from. 









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