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The UK’s “Snooper’s Charter” was described as “the most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy” by the Open Rights Group. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) has been ruled unlawful three times now: in the UK High Court, in the European Court of Justice and most recently by the UK Court of Appeal.

It turns out the UK government simply has no right and is breaking the law by collecting the entire nation’s internet activity and phone records, and enabling public bodies to grant themselves access to these personal details when there’s been no crime or even suspicious activity, without incredibly any independent oversight whatsoever.

So we have no qualms wielding our open source privacy toolkit, to mask our browsing, send encrypted messages to our friends and keep files locked privately away.

Many of the noises coming from the UK government make it feel like it could even be lurching towards outlawing strong encryption, a much-derided position, but one that will put open source users in a difficult situation. Back in the late ‘90s the US banned exporting encryption stronger than 40-bits, later 56-bit with backdoors, which was largely futile and stifled innovation at the time.

It certainly feels like a less-fun topic than usual; anything that involves repressive regimes is probably moving out of the Fun-Time Venn diagram and into the Deadly Serious one. But we do have plenty of lighter topics in here too, so if you’re in the privileged position of being able to, enjoy!

As always we'd love to hear from you: what projects you’re contributing to, the latest software you're using and any problems you might have. Email us your thoughts to lxf.letters@futurenet.com
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