New bill needed to tackle hostile activity by Russia and others, says home secretary
Hostile state actors – spies, assassins or hackers directed by the government of another country – are to be targeted by refreshed espionage and treason laws, the home secretary has announced.
In a speech to security officials in central London, Sajid Javid revealed plans to publish a new espionage bill to tackle increased hostile state activity from countries including but not limited to Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill to create a separate Russian national internet.
The legislation is primarily focused on establishing an autonomous national system, separate from the internet used globally, which would have its own DNS system and would require all traffic in the country to pass through online government monitoring. Putin has justified the move as being due to mitigating the threats of interference from foreign governments in Russian politics.
The bill comes on the heels of several other measures passed by Putin’s government, largely aimed at curtailing internet freedom, including one passed in March that granted it the power to punish Russian citizens for insulting public officials, and another targeting “unreliable socially significant information.”
Civil libertarians and security experts alike say Putin’s project mirrors China’s massive censorship of the Internet, which is called the “Golden Shield Project” and the “Great Firewall.”
“It’s about being able to cut off certain types of traffic in certain areas during times of civil unrest,” said Russian author Andrei Soldatov.
The intended separation from the wider internet has also proven unpopular with Russians. A recent poll conducted showed only 23% approve of the legislation, and thousands of protestors demonstrated in Moscow in opposition to it earlier this year.
Readers respond to the sacking of the defence secretary Gavin Williamson over accusations of leaking
While I am delighted that Gavin Williamson (May tells defence secretary: ‘You leaked, you are fired’, 2 May) has been removed from the government – remember he said that all British jihadists should be hunted down and killed in the Middle East rather than returned for trial here – I am sorry that as a result Rory Stewart no longer has responsibility for prisons. His is a deserved promotion, but as prisons minister he was the first member of the government to make any attempt to get to grips with the problems of our criminal justice system and offered to resign if things did not improve. How sad that there are not more of that ilk in public life these days. Maureen Panton Malvern, Worcestershire
• Is the Gavin Williamson who has just been sacked as defence secretary for allegedly leaking plans discussed in the National Security Council to allow Huawei to be involved in building the UK’s 5G network the same Gavin Williamson who told us last year that it’s Jeremy Corbyn that “cannot be trusted”? Sasha Simic London
It’s time to act, as personal data is being used to target voters – and the EU commission isn’t doing enough to stop this
On 11 July last year the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published its first report on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a date I will never forget, a date that substantially changed my vision of the current threats to our democratic society. It is a day that became a call to arms for me – and, for once, I had the understanding, the knowledge and the expertise to support the fight. I felt it was time to put all of this to good use for civil society, and so I set out to discover how online electoral campaigning works. And let me tell you, the system is not in good health and we Europeans should all be made more aware of that.