'Most Intrusive Surveillance Regime in the West' Isn't Even the U.S., says Edward Snowden

Do you want the government knowing how often you watch porn?

By my read, #SnoopersCharter legitimizes mass surveillance. It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West.

— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 4, 2015

Senior lecturer in computing at Liverpool John Moores University, Brett Lempereur is live-streaming websites he's visiting on the Internet in real time in an effort to show how invasive the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill will be, should it pass in the UK. It would require Internet service providers to keep records of every website a person visited for a maximum of 12 months. On top of that, police would not need a warrant to look at these records.

“I'm not sure if people get the scope of the 'snooper's charter' that is still on the table. So, I'll be using the extension in this repository to stream my web browsing metadata in real-time to anyone that cares to look at it for a while,” Lempereur wrote on GitHub.

Surveillance is an abstract concept when it's impossible to see what's being logged. I know getting my family members and friends to retrain their muscle memory from typing in Google to DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn't log your queries, or download Signal, an app that allows users to send encrypted texts and calls, is like pulling teeth. Why? They either don't think it matters or don't want to be inconvenienced.

Lempereur is letting everything show on his site, Ireacharound (a play on the NSA's search engine IREACH). He warns that some of the content on the site may be NSFW (not safe for work). But this isn't anything the government wouldn't be able to see if the Investigatory Powers Bill passes.

Lempereur believes that "[s]urveillance on this scale would have an impact on people's behaviour on the Internet," he added. But that's only if people acknowledge they're being watched.

"Their browsing habits and their personal preferences can be identified, for example how much pornography they have viewed. I have certainly been self-censoring what I have been viewing," he said in an interview with Wired. But he admitted that was partially because his web content is being openly published.

Lempereur believes that "[s]urveillance on this scale would have an impact on people's behaviour on the Internet," he added. But that's only if people acknowledge they're being watched.

When the threat of our actions becoming visible is obvious — when we know we're being watched — we tend to change our behavior. However, the government likely won't pin an all-seeing eye to your browser if this bill is passed. There will be no warning reading, “Your content will be logged,” before you enter each site. It's out of sight, out of mind — because the government doesn't want you to think about being watched. Just act natural.

But the Chrome browser extension Lempereur has developed displays an icon of UK Home Secretary Theresa May “sitting in your browser looking at what you're doing.” The extension is available on GitHub.

Brad Templeton argues that we're all a part of a surveillance apparatus that would even be beyond the imagination of George Orwell.


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: Liverpool John Moores University

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
  • The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
  • Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
  • Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
Keep reading Show less