Snoopers charter: UK government pushes forward with spy bill amid increasing concerns
The statue of Richard the Lionheart outside the Houses of Parliament in LondonGetty Images

The UK government is pushing forward with the proposed spy bill — the Investigatory Powers Bill also known as Snooper's Charter — amid increasing concerns from others. Parliamentarians on 15 March convened to debate about the validity of the bill and decide by vote on whether or not to move forward with it.

The parliamentary ended with the members voting in favour of the bill, despite concerns and criticism it has so far received from private technology companies, businesses, lawyers and even Amnesty International. The spy bill was approved by 266 votes to 15 and is slated to move forward to the next stage of parliamentary review, called the committee stage, the Wired reported.

During the session on 15 March, home secretary Theresa May, the politician spearheading the legislature, spoke in favour of it, arguing that the proposed bill was necessary to combat extremist threats to the nation. Calling it a "world-leading legislation" May encouraged the Parliament to allow it to move forward unhindered.

Snooper's Charter was heavily criticised by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and the Scottish National Party, all of whom vowed to oppose it unless the bill was redrafted in several key areas. Labour's Andy Burnham said: "The truth is we are some way from finding a consensus in the form that this legislation should take. We've recognised the country needs a new law but I've also said that the government's bill is not yet worthy of support. There are significant weaknesses in this bill."

It is noteworthy that so far three parliamentary committees have criticised the content and structure of the bill calling it "vaguely worded", "lacking clarity" and failing to "provide privacy protection" to British citizens. Amnesty International has also criticised the bill in trying to undermine privacy.

Coinciding with the parliamentary debate, a group of 200 leading British lawyers sent in a singed letter to the Guardian, stressing that the Snooper's Charter "fails to meet international standards for surveillance powers" and "may be illegal".