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UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

Author: Kieren McCarthy / Source: The Register

Anger over Manchester attack may play a part

The UK government will push through orders next month to force all communications companies including Google and Facebook to break data encryption.

That’s according to the Sun newspaper, which quotes a government minister as saying “we will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now.”

The same minister is also quoted as saying: “The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long.”

The defiant response comes the day after the latest bombing atrocity in Manchester that saw 22 people killed outside a pop concert. Although there is currently no reason to believe that unencrypted data would have made a difference in that incident, the issue has become a touch point for law enforcement and government officials, particularly in the face of defiant tech companies based in the United States.

After the other recent attack in Westminster, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was “completely unacceptable” that the authorities were unable to look at the encrypted WhatsApp messages of the attacker Khalid Masood, arguing that there should be “no place for terrorists to hide.”

The requirement for companies to remove “electronic protection applied to … any communications or data” was written into the Investigatory Powers Act last year, but it requires the formal approval of a “technical capacity notice” by both houses of Parliament before it takes effect.


Earlier this month, a draft version of that notice was…

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