Would you give a stranger your phone to let them browse through your text messages, emails and location history? Human rights group Liberty is betting the answer is no.
In its latest campaign called 'No Snoopers' Charter' the organisation is attempting to shine a spotlight on the vast powers included in the UK surveillance bill currently passing through Parliament.
Alongside creative agency 'Don't Panic', Liberty has released a short video featuring comedian Olivia Lee, who takes to the streets of London and demands access to strangers' smartphones. Unsurprisingly, she is met with confusion and anger from both the public and the police. In once scene, Lee is escorted from the lobby of the Home Office after attempting to snoop on its communications data – much to the confusion of the officers standing guard.
Bella Sankey, policy director for Liberty, said: "People in Britain value their personal privacy – even Home Office staff are unwilling to reveal their phone records for no good reason.
"But the government's latest Snoopers' Charter would make everyone's online activity available to the authorities to speculatively trawl through without good reason and without us ever being told.
"It will all but end online privacy, put our personal security at risk and swamp law enforcement with swathes of useless information. People need to make it clear to MPs – we don't want the government building profiles of our personal lives with no justification and this bill must stopped."
The Snoopers' Charter – or Investigatory Powers Bill as it's officially known - aims to bolster the spying powers of the police, government and UK intelligence agencies. Despite being met with criticism from both inside and outside of the government, UK Home Secretary Theresa May has maintained the bill is 'world-leading' legislation.
"As our film shows, people naturally recoil when a stranger asks to see their phone," said Larry Holmes, Liberty's campaign coordinator. "There's a reason we use encrypted services and protect our phones and computers with passwords and codes.
"Our emails, texts, online chats and browsing history paint an incredibly detailed and private picture of our lives, and we don't want a stranger poring over them. This latest Snoopers' Charter is a world-leading embarrassment – it will all but end online privacy, put our personal security at risk and swamp law enforcement with too much information. The Home Office would be wise to ditch it and come up with the targeted, intelligence-led system we need to keep us safe and respect our rights."
Unfortunately for Liberty, the spying bill appears to be inevitable. With the current surveillance legislation, the Data Retentions and Investigatory Powers Act, expiring in December this year the so-called Snoopers' Charter will soon become Snoopers' Law.