Large tech companies concerned over UK draft surveillance bill

Large tech companies concerned over UK draft surveillance bill

Some of the largest tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo have criticised plans for a UK draft surveillance bill that would allow law enforcement to hack computer systems to access data.

In a joint statement, the tech giants challenged the government regarding the proposed laws which is set to be voted on later this year. This bill would mean enhanced surveillance powers that government officials say they need to keep pace with the changes in technology and to combat cybercrime.

“The actions the U.K. government takes here could have far-reaching implications—for our customers, for your own citizens, and for the future of the global technology industry,” said Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo in their joint statement.

The tech companies say that the new measures would require them to collect large amounts of data and assist law-enforcement officials crack encrypted communications. The concern also related to the privacy and security of customer's data as well as the high cost of complying with the new rules, requiring the companies to keep constant records of customers internet usage. However, the most controversial power of the bill is the ability for intelligence officials to hack computers to access communications of terror suspects.

Apple has also expressed its concern in a separate letter, stating that the proposed laws would weaken the strength of encryption in the products and services the company offers, allowing cyber criminals and hackers to steal personal data and launch an array of cyberattacks.

“Increasingly stronger—not weaker—encryption is the best way to protect against these threats,...the fact is to comply with the government’s proposal, the personal data of millions of law-abiding citizens would be less secure,” Apple said.

The proposed laws, which is said to violate privacy rights, is said to be a step in the wrong direction according to Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo. The recent terror attacks in Europe and the U.S has hardened the debate for increased cyber surveillance and to give law enforcement officials better cooperation from large tech companies.

Theresa May, British Home Secretary is scheduled to address the concerns expressed by the companies when she appears in front of the law makers next week.