Parliamentary committee says bill would otherwise undermine the tech sector.
IPB The first Parliamentary report into the UK's draft Investigatory Powers Bill, commonly referred to as the "Snoopers' Charter", says it has great potential to damage the nation's technology sector and the public should therefore pick up the tab for the £2bn (US$2.85bn) or so it will require to implement the data-harvesting legislation.
One of the most concerning clauses of the bill is 189(4)(c), as it provides the government with the ability to impose “obligations relating to the removal of electronic protection applied by a relevant operator to any communications or data.”
The Government's has stated that it has no desire to “ban or limit cryptography”, and indeed this was trotted out recently in its response to a January petition on cryptography. Just how how 189(4)(c) might impact end-to-end encrypted communications is, however, as-yet-un-explained.
The committee noted: “Apple and other communications companies have expressed concerns about whether the draft Bill might require them to adopt weaker standards of encryption. Apple have also reportedly stated that the draft Investigatory Powers Bill could be a catalyst for other countries to enact similar measures, leading to significant numbers of contradictory country-specific laws.”
The Home Office told the committee that communications service providers would be expected to serve up plaintext data when ordered to do so. The report understood that this “would not apply to content that is encrypted end-to-end before being passed to the communications provider for transmission: 'What has to be removed is the electronic protection that the service-provider itself has put on the message. It is not removing encryption; it is removing electronic protection.”
The IPB concurred: “Encryption is important in providing the secure services on the internet we all rely on, from credit card transactions and commerce to legal or medical communications. It is essential that the integrity and security of legitimate online transactions is maintained if we are to trust in, and benefit from, the opportunities of an increasingly digital economy.”
And also that: “The Government needs to do more to allay unfounded concerns that encryption will no longer be possible.”