A computer scientist has created a livestream of all the websites he’s visiting — including those not safe for work — to show what the government’s proposed new surveillance legislation could mean for UK citizens.
The openly published browsing history of Brett Lempereur, a senior lecturer in computing at Liverpool John Moores University, shows the time, device used, and websites he has visited. All this data would be collected by ISPs and made available to police and security services if new surveillance laws are passed.
A glance at the page showed him visit Gmail, Google Hangouts, YouTube, Google APIs, GitHub, Facebook, and much more.
The website hosting the data pulls in the last 50 websites he has visited from all of his computers running Chrome — it isn’t available for websites visited on mobile phones at present.
“This is an attempt to show the amount of information that will be available about you without and with a warrant if the new Investigatory Powers Bill comes into force in its current form,” Lempereur wrote on his website.
The new legislation, if passed into law, would require internet service providers and mobile phone companies to collect the information — known as metadata — of all users for up to 12 months.
The government has said this is not every page visited, just each website — WIRED.co.uk for example, but not this individual page. The website created by Lempereur allows individual pages to be shown as well as the domain.
Lempereur told WIRED he was concerned by the amount of information that communications providers would have to keep on each person. “Metadata analysis on this scale, with this quantity of information is extremely concerning,” Lempereur said, arguing that it would allow for more than a person’s identity to be revealed.
“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, although he acknowledged part of this is because the data is now being published openly.
“Surveillance on this scale would have an impact on people’s behaviour on the internet,” he said.
The website uses a Chrome extension developed by Lempereur, which has “an icon of Theresa May sitting in your browser looking at what you’re doing”. This extension collects details of websites visited before uploading it to the website. Full details are listed on the project’s GitHub page.