Under the Reform Government Surveillance (RGS), America’s giant tech companies have with one voice criticized the proposed digital surveillance regulations in the United Kingdom.
In evidence presented to the committee evaluating the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill, the firms argue that the law, if implemented in the UK, will influence other nations’ decision to adopt the law that will infringe privacy rights of individuals and have other implications too. The group brings together big America tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, AOL, LinkedIn, Twitter and Yahoo in agitating for proper practices and laws that regulate government surveillance in individuals’ information.
The United Kingdom’s Investigatory Powers Bill Draft
Introduced last year by UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, the draft bill partly seeks to compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to maintain and keep an individual’s past year’s record of internet activities. The bill also will compel the ISPs to avail the kept records to relevant government authorities when required.
On her part, May says that the bill is intended to fight organized terrorism, crime and cyber bullying. She reiterates that the United Kingdom government has no intention of weakening encryption.
On their part, the RGS has pointed out the mischief in the purported law arguing that the law would have directly stipulated that no organization will oblige to weaken its security measures. The firms argue that they don’t want to compromise the trust of their customers by revealing their internet activities.
The considerations outlined by the RGS
The tech firms outlined a number of deliberations that should be observed in the process of passing the law. These include; key elements in the proposed legislation would influence other countries to adopt the same since the UK is among the top nations of the world; the surveillance authorities can dent users’ trust in the firms’ security of services; user trust to products is the backbone of selling their services; unilateral adoption of the law might conflict with the various ISPs around the world, and this might lead to a chaotic legal system amongst many other deliberations.
Upon receiving the evidence, the chairperson of the Joint Committee on the Investigatory Powers Bill Draft, Lord Murphy of Torfaen said that despite the tight deadline given for the task completion, the committee will duly work on both written and oral evidence presented and also acknowledged the effort by the witnesses.
Apparently, it appears that the tech companies are giving contrasting views from the past. In the past, some companies were reported to have suggested assisting the spy agencies with relevant information provided that no one else knew of this arrangement.
Encryption on fire
The encryption technology has been in the limelight in the recent past. This technology is used by a number of social media apps such as Telegram, and this app was reportedly used by terrorists to plan terror activities including the 2015 Paris attacks. It was in this line of events that the debate on regulating encryption and surveillance emerged. The debate has seen most governments and security agencies including the Obama-led government and CIA to push for the introduction of regulatory measures to encryption and enhanced surveillance.
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