UK “Snoopers Charter” Will Require All Companies To Bake In Back Doors

Britain is following in the United States’ footsteps.  Just like with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court or FISA Court, The new bill in Britain called The Snoopers’ Charter by people who don’t like it (and called the Investigatory Powers Bill by the government) would require any company to bake in a back door to hack their users and, most importantly, like with US FISA Court orders would be prohibited from publicly challenging the order or even telling users that they have added a back door.

The British call it a technical capabilities notice rather than calling it a demand to secretly spy on your customers, but by either name it is still eavesdropping.  The bill as it is currently written says that anyone who receives one of these notices is under a duty not to disclose either the contents or existence of that notice.

With the exception of companies who have less than 10,000 users, all companies will be required to provide a permanent technical capability to spy on its customers.  Smaller companies will be required to build such a capability if the government asks.

The bill also allows the government to serve a warrant on a software company outside the U.K. to spy on its customers if asked to.  It would seem that their ability to enforce such a warrant is limited.  Say they want Daesh (ISIS) to build them a back door.  It is not clear exactly who they would serve it on, but it is pretty clear it would be ignored.  In fact, since the Germans, for example, have stated clearly that they do not support such a law, it could be hard to enforce in Germany.

The British government could try to stop users from downloading German or other software, but that is likely hard to do unless they disconnect from the Internet, which would likely cause bigger problems for the British economy.

The British Parliament committees who have looked at this bill have had significant concerns and since the process of legislating in the U.K, like in the U.S., is  similar to watching sausage being made (i.e. somewhat nauseating), we shall see comes of this.

Information for this post came from Tech Crunch.

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