The government doesn’t want to ban encryption, but it does want to stop companies using ‘strong’ encryption it can’t break.
The Investigatory Powers Bill, which is due to be published Wednesday, won’t stop companies protecting data and messages by encrypting them, officials have now said. However companies will have to be able to unlock them if asked by the security agencies, according to reports — which arguably amounts to more or less the same thing.
Briefing the Telegraph, officials have said they will stop companies from using end-to-end encryption, which places a higher level of protection on data and messages than regular encryption.
End-to-end encryption allows companies to encrypt messages so they can only be opened and read by the user — for example Apple can’t read the iMessages you send, only the participants in a conversation can.
Internet firms will have to store details of people’s online activity for 12 months under a new surveillance law.
The requirement is included in the government’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill, to be published later.
The government is promising strict safeguards, including a ban on councils accessing people’s internet records and a new offence of misuse of the data.
Ministers are also facing calls for judges to sign warrants to access the content of digital records.
Currently responsibility lies with Home Secretary Theresa May.
- The draft bill, which David Cameron says is one of the most important pieces of legislation of this parliament, will be published in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
It will be examined in detail by both Houses of Parliament before the final bill is voted on next year.
The language in the draft bill will be dry – but quite simply it creates new powers to allow arms of the state to access your online life – if they have cause and legal justification to do so.
How will the powers be used? Most certainly against terrorism suspects, organised criminals and people involved in abuse, exploitation and kidnappings.
Will they be used against the innocent? Ministers will promise world-leading levels of restrictions, scrutiny and oversight which they say will be designed to prevent abuse from ever taking place.
Critics will call this a snooper’s charter – but security chiefs and police say they’re not interested in your online shopping habits – only the habits of serious threats to society.
And they say this legislation is long overdue – and has the backing of three major reports in the last year that broadly agreed that there should be no safe space online for criminals.