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November 3, 2015

5 key points on the government’s digital surveillance proposals…

List: ...and why it matters to UK tech

By Charlotte Henry

Theresa May’s Home Office is likely to introduce a new Investigatory Powers Bill into Parliament tomorrow, making it easier for the security services to get hold of the digital data of those the government suspects of serious crimes.

Here are some of the key issues.

1. The police could get more powers…

Rumours swirling around indicate that the police will gain powers to see records of websites and internet applications used by suspects. Currently they can access to communications data, targeted interception of electronic communications, collection of bulk data and the ability to mount IT attacks.

2. ….but judges probably won’t

Despite the recommendation this from David Anderson QC, who reviewed terror legislation in June, and pressure from privacy campaigners, the Home Secretary is unlikely to give the power to sign warrants to judges.

Instead May will retain the the power for her office. Anderson said the Home Secretary signs an average of 10 warrants every working day.

3. British tech is worried

A survey taken at IP Expo Europe found that 58% of UK IT departments were worried about rising costs on the back of the Bill, and costs have been estimated at £1.8bn over 10 years for the extra collection, monitoring and storage of data.

4. Some firms are even threatening to quit the UK

Eris Industries’ COO Preston Byrne has been very outspoken. When May first made her proposals shortly after the election he wrote on his company’s website: "If this Bill is passed into law, we are likely to see a mass exodus of tech companies and financial services firms alike from the United Kingdom. We are happy to lead by example."

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Startup also publicly quit the UK, with its founder Aral Balkan citing the surveillance laws as one of the reasons why.

5. Companies fear Bill will make the internet less safe

Cloud security company Skyhigh Networks’ say the Bill show the government is out of touch with modern tech. "Any law which bans end-to-end encryption will break data protection regulations and decrease security on the internet, " said its European spokesperson Nigel Hawthorn.






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