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In November the United Kingdom’s House of Lords finally pushed through the haughtily-titled Investigatory Powers Bill, more commonly known as the Snooper’s Charter. Purported to be a way for the government to prevent terrorism, crime, illegal immigration, rain on Guy Fawkes Night, and that recurring nightmare about your gym teacher, the legislation was hailed by Edward Snowden as “the most extreme surveillance in the history of Western Democracy.”

However, a petition to repeal the legislation has gathered the requisite 100,000 signatures (130,000 and climbing as I write this) to force Parliament to bring it back up for debate. According to Jim Killock, Exec. Dir. of Open Rights Group, the primary concern is data retention:

“The UK data retention regime has been expanded massively by the bill, through the creation of powers to keep Internet Connection Records, and a Home Office or police search engine to access this data. This combination is incredibly intrusive and may also be called into question by the CJEU judgment.”

Meanwhile John Shaw, VP Product Development at Sophos, recently told Huffington Post the legislation merely codified much of what the British government was already up to. Ergo, little will change except shady government activity becomes socially-acceptable government activity. Will using VPN help? Maybe, but if the government wants to get into your computer, it won’t help much. Does he see widespread uptake in VPN as a result? Not so much. “I doubt it.  Any even vaguely tech-savvy criminal or terrorist is already using encryption to conceal the content of any communication from government snoopers – for example using Whatsapp, or The Onion Router (TOR)