Brits back mass internet surveillance following recent terror threats
- Recent terror attacks have shifted the opinions of 27% of Brits to support government plans for internet surveillance, pushing overall support into a 63% majority
- But 67% don’t trust broadband providers to securely store their web history
- Brits least comfortable sharing web history with local councils, employers and the government
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A survey by broadband and internet information website Broadband Genie has highlighted a big shift in public opinion on internet surveillance following recent terror attacks. Some 63% of those surveyed now support the draft Investigatory Powers Bill – with 27% saying their opinion has changed following recent terrorist threats and attacks.
But UK broadband users aren’t completely happy with the proposals. A key feature of the bill is broadband providers being required to store web histories for at least 12 months and making them available to the authorities when requested; yet 67% of those polled said they do not trust providers to keep this data secure.
The Investigatory Powers Bill covers a wide range of measures; from intelligence agencies being able acquire information in bulk, to British companies being legally required to hack devices to help law enforcement agencies.
Rob Hilborn, Head of Strategy at Broadband Genie, says: “The public are quite rightly concerned with their web history being stored by service providers for this length of time, especially considering the high profile attacks on TalkTalk and Vodafone last year. It’s imperative the government addresses how it plans to minimise the risk of this sensitive personal information being stolen.”
Although more people seem happy to accept surveillance as a necessary security measure, there are widely differing levels of trust placed in government and law enforcement departments. As part of the survey Broadband Genie asked which organisations and people would be most or least trusted with access to web history, generating a trust score for each. The government (2.55) and employers (2.32) received low trust scores, whilst local councils scored the lowest of all (2.31).
The new law does not permit local authorities to access web browsing histories, with a two-year prison sentence to be created for any public authority which abuses the law. In most cases a judge will need to approve a warrant, and an “Investigatory Powers Commissioner” will be given the power to “hold the intelligence agencies and law enforcement to account”.
At the other end of the spectrum, users are most comfortable sharing their web history with their partner (3.82) and family members (3.47), whilst both the police (3.37) and intelligence agencies (3.36) also received above average trust scores.
For further information please contact
Rob Hilborn on 01223 501 344 or [email protected] (quotes and interviews)
Matt Powell on [email protected] (technical queries)
Notes to editors
 Trust score
Broadband Genie has designed the trust score metric to determine the overall level of comfortability users have for each organisation/person. Trust score is calculated by averaging the comfort scores for each organisation/person.
 Average trust score = 3.03
3,103 of Broadband Genie’s users from across the country were surveyed. The research was conducted online between the 17th November – 1st January 2016. The full data is available here:
Broadband Genie is an independent switching site providing consumers and businesses with practical help, advice and price comparison for home broadband, mobile broadband, phones, TV services and mobile accessories.
Broadband Genie was launched in March 2004 as the first dedicated consumer comparison site for broadband. It is now one of the largest in the UK, attracting more than 200,000 visitors each month.