Microsoft, others raise objections to UK’s proposed Investigatory Powers Bill

Ever since Edward Snowden, the world’s governments and technology companies seem to have been locked in a loud, forever-lasting war of data security. The newest battle of which is happening in the United Kingdom, where the recent proposal to give the government power over encrypted user data, called Investigatory Powers Bill, is meeting with heavy backlash from major tech companies, Microsoft included.

A new Snooper’s Charter

The proposal – aptly nicknamed the Snooper’s Charter despite the government’s effort to distance it from the similarly duped flunked Communications Data Bill from 2013 – is the biggest overhaul of  the UK’s surveillance laws in 15 years, introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May. The gist of it is that ministers can sign off warrants for intrusive surveillance, communication companies have to retain customer data for up to 12 months, and the government can collect data en masse and hack into suspects’ electronic devices. The bill supposedly would bring UK’s national security up-to-date with the internet age.

Security and trust

Naturally, none of this sits well with tech companies that rely on customer trust with their data, and they have sure enough protested heavily. Apple fired the first shot, calling out the potential for the government to force a break of data encryption, necessitating a backdoor in the first place and therefore posing security risk. This is not to mention losing integrity with customers and potentially breaking conflicting international laws from the US and other countries.

Following Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook have made a joint submission to oppose the bill stating similar concerns. Additionally, it claims that the wording of the draft is “vague and confusing” and could be interpreted unfavorably for end-to-end encryption. Leading communication service providers in the UK like Vodafone and EE have also voiced their disapproval.

There is time till the middle of February to oppose and recommend changes to the proposal. We will be keeping an eye on the situation’s development and update you once information comes.

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What do you think about the new Investigatory Powers Bill?