Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill will threaten people’s access to security updates and privacy friendly apps

MPs are expected to vote for the Investigatory Powers Amendment Bill (IPAB) when it returns to parliament today. The Bill could force tech companies to apply to the Home Office prior to introducing updates that improve the security and privacy of their products. The Home Office could then serve notices preventing the updates from being applied. These proposals have been condemned by privacy organisations and tech companies alike because of the threat they pose to people’s security and privacy.

According to reports, the Bill will also include further amendments introduced by the government, and by Labour, who are expected to support the Bill.

Open Rights Group has urged MPs to reject proposals that would enable the UK to secretly veto security updates that ensure our online interactions are safe and secure.

Campaigns Manager for Open Rights Group, James Baker said:

“This Bill extends the government’s powers for mass surveillance and undermines safeguards and restrictions. In particular, giving the government powers to veto companies’ security updates will impact people’s access to security and privacy enhancing software.

“The Bill will further damage the UK’s reputation as a place for tech innovation and sends the message to industry that the UK does not have a balanced system of regulation when it comes to surveillance.

Open Rights Group joined techUK, privacy organisations and other stakeholders in outlining concerns about the Bill in a statement published on Friday.

Tech companies such as Apple have also raised concerns in evidence submitted to Parliament.

“In addition to impacting the safety of billions of users around the world who rely on security technologies developed by Apple and other companies, the Bill in its current form would undermine fundamental human rights. In fact, just this year, the European Court of Human Rights1 held that requiring a company to provide a means to decrypt all encrypted communications on its platform violated the right to privacy in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

1 Case of Podchasov v. Russia –{%22itemid%22:[%22001-230854%22]}

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