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November 23, 2016updated 24 Nov 2016 10:24am

Tech companies look to capitalise on new UK surveillance bill

VPN operators offer more security features to hide people’s online activity.

By CBR Staff Writer

Technology companies are looking to offer enhanced privacy solutions for the people in the UK to hide their browsing history, as a new Snooper’s Charter’ bill requires recording of their online activities.

Internet providers will soon need to record their customer activities, including websites and messaging apps accessed by them, following the passage bill, which is set to become law soon.

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill, which is aimed at curbing terrorism, is slated to become a law by the end of this year.

But critics dubbed the bill as Snooper’s Charter and said that hackers could gain access to the recorded data, BBC reported.

Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa) chairman James Blessing said: “It only takes one bad actor to go in there and get the entire database.

“You can try every conceivable thing in the entire world to [protect it] but somebody will still outsmart you.

“Mistakes will happen. It’s a question of when. Hopefully it’s in tens or maybe a hundred years. But it might be next week.”

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However, virtual private network (VPN) operators are already taking advantage of the new rules to sell their offerings.

After digitally scrambling users’ internet traffic, VPNs send it to one of their own servers before passing it on to a site or app. A reversed process will help people to hide their online activity.

The usage of VPN allows internet service providers to avoid submitting a person’s online activity to the authorities.

Instead, the providers can say that a subscriber used a VPN.

NordVPN spokeswoman Jodi Myers told BBC: “We saw a boom in Australia last year correlated to when its data retention law went into effect.

“And we are already seeing an increase in inquiries from the UK.”

Myers said that the company has already started providing additional security features to UK customers.

The features enable customers to encrypt their data twice and send it via two servers.

She added: “Our biggest advantage is we have a zero log policy.

“Our headquarters are in Panama, which doesn’t have data retention laws, so it allows us to do this.”

Another VPN operator said that preventing the use of such technologies would be difficult for the UK government.

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