Science & Technology Committee report says Investigatory Powers Bill could threaten UK tech sector

The Don’t Spy on Us coalition urges the UK Government to address the issues raised in the Science and Technology Committee’s report into the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. This first report into the Bill's feasibility says it could undermine the UK tech industry if passed in its current state. DSOU is urging the government to allow sufficient time to address the issues raised by the Committee. A revised version of the 300 page Bill is expected to be laid before Parliament this Spring.

Campaign Director, Eric King, said:

“Civil liberties groups, technology companies, and the Science and Technology Committee are unanimous; laws that undermine encryption and promote blanket internet surveillance are not only deeply harmful to civil liberties but they are also bad for business. The committee is right to demand answers from the Home Office on the exact scope and the meaning of key definitions throughout this draft Bill. But the damage has been done. The Bill has failed in its primary mission of being both clear and comprehensive.

"The Home Office has had months to prepare this legislation and three independent reform reports to guide them. Why haven't they been able to get this right?”

The report endorses a number of points previously made by Don’t Spy on Us members:

  • Rather than being clear and comprehensive, the Bill includes terms that are so broad that it is not clear exactly how they are to be interpreted. This uncertainty is problematic for the UK tech sector as well as UK citizens.
  • There is a lack of clarity around the budget allocated for retaining ICRs, which could put UK businesses at a disadvantage.
  • Powers for equipment interference could undermine the security of the Internet and threaten UK businesses.
  • There is a lack of clarity around powers for accessing encrypted materials.

The report is available here.

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