International Alarm Over UK Internet Surveillance Laws

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The UK government’s proposed online surveillance bill has come under intense scrutiny from tech giants. In a joint submission, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter have raised concerns over how far-reaching the bill is, arguing that it goes too far. The Investigatory Powers Bill aims to give the government more power to force tech companies to hand over user data. It is being brought in due to heightened fears of terrorism being planned online. The bill proposes that technology companies should build back doors into their software and hand over decryption keys to allow them to decode private messages, two things that tech companies are strongly opposed to. In their submission, the tech giants said: “We reject any proposals that would require companies to deliberately weaken the security of their products via backdoors, forced decryption, or any other means.” The bill also wants to introduce “extraterritorial jurisdiction”, meaning that foreign companies would be forced to comply with UK laws, something that the tech companies have branded “lawless and heavy-handed”. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has also waded into the debate, arguing that the bill’s proposal to retain users’ internet connection records goes too far. Internet connection records reveal which websites users have accessed, without revealing which individual webpages were visited. 

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