MPs are planning to enforce new orders forcing technology firms to hand encrypted data to authorities investigating terrorism once the election has finished. The Technical Capability Notices are a clause of the Investigatory Powers Act, and compel tech companies to remove encryption from messages sent via WhatsApp or Facebook. The companies have previously resisted the orders, arguing that when a service is encrypted end-to-end (enabling only the sender and recipient to read the messages), the Bill should “recognise that it will not be reasonably practicable to provide decrypted content“.
Apple in particular has been extremely vocal in its opposition to any directives it sees as weakening encryption or creating back doors into services, saying: “We have … never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will.” The orders will require approval from Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, and a senior judge, according to the Sun.
Debate has been raging over the ethics of encryption for years, but the Westminster terror attack in March threw the issue into starker relief. As investigations continue into whether Manchester bomber Salman Abedi acted in collusion with others, it is likely encryption will the thrust further into the spotlight.