[TheGuardian] Privacy watchdog attacks snooper's charter over encryption

Information commissioner warns encryption ‘is vital’ for personal security, and attempts to weaken it should not be in new investigatory powers bill.

The information commissioner’s office has heavily criticised the draft Investigatory Powers bill for attacking individuals’ privacy, particularly in relation to the apparent requirement on communication providers to weaken or break their data encryption at the government’s request.

The privacy watchdog also told the parliamentary committee responsible for scrutinising the bill that “little justification” was given for one of the most controversial aspects of the proposed legislation: a new requirement on communications providers to store comms data for 12 months. [...]

For the most secure types of communication, known as “end to end” encryption, the communications provider cannot read encrypted messages even if they are served with a government warrant. Messaging providers including Apple, Facebook and Telegram all use this sort of encryption, but the draft IP bill suggests they could be forced by a government warrant to change to a weaker standard. [...]

The British government is not alone in moving against consumer use of encryption, however. In early January, an amendment was introduced into the French national assembly which sought to enforce similar requirements on equipment manufacturers to ensure that any information can be given to the police with a judicial warrant. [...]

And China introduced its own snooper’s charter in December, with a bill requiring tech companies to decrypt messages at the government’s request.