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November 10, 2015

Snooper’s Charter poses threat to encryption & privacy, warn tech companies

News: The bill requires ISPs to keep a record of the Internet activity of every citizen.

By CBR Staff Writer

Technology companies have voiced their concerns relating to the UK Government’s new Investigatory Powers bill, which was introduced last week by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Several companies, both large and small, have expressed their concerns to the Guardian that one particular clause of the proposed bill gives the government the power to force them to weaken their systems for the bulk collection aspects outlined in the legislation.

Section 189 of the bill, titled Maintenance of technical capability, enables the secretary of state to issue orders to companies with respect to the removal of electronic protection applied by a relevant operator to any communications or data.

These particular capability notices could threaten any firm that provides "end-to-end" encryption to its customers.

Pravin Kothari, founder and CEO of CipherCloud, said: "Though the Home Secretary positions the bill as a departure from the ‘snooper’s charter,’ the word ‘disclosure’ appears 182 times. The push to mandate data retention by ISPs and to allow warrantless access for investigators will certainly expand law enforcement’s surveillance capabilities – to the detriment of personal privacy.

"As a technologist, I believe in the power of technology to solve problems. In times like these when fear-driven bills compromise the right to privacy, we can look to security tools, such as encryption, to defend online communications from unwanted access."

Meanwhile, a new survey has revealed that 87% of IT leaders disagree with the government’s plan to reduce the strength of data encryption in the bill.

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Swiss data bank Artmotion carried out the research on 500 IT decision makers throughout the UK.

According to the study, just 13% believe that the new plans are sensible and 60% said they will not trust the government with the security of their private information.

One in five respondents said they will not support any reduction in encryption technology even for the sake of national security.


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