The Future of Mobile

New government proposal would mean 'live' suveillance of UK web users' chats

Tyrone Stewart

Girl phone darkThe ‘near real time’ surveillance of UK web users’ internet communications has been proposed in an unpublished government draft technical paper.

The draft statutory instrument for the Investigatory Powers Act, which was leaked to civil liberties body the Open Rights Group, proposes several requirements that telecoms operators and internet service providers will have to adhere to under the updated Act.

It states that telecoms operators are required to hand-over any requested transmission of communications and secondary data in “near real time” within one working day “where practicable”.

The paper suggests that the UK’s Technical Advisory Board has already been consulted on and seen a copy of the proposal – but it is not clear what the Board’s feedback was on the proposal.

If the proposal is made into law, it would mean tech companies, such as WhatsApp, removing the encryption of communications within their platforms in the UK – which could mean more than just the government getting the hands on personal communications. It could also lead to people being exploited by hackers and having content leaked that they wouldn’t be best pleased to have in public – a problem that many celebrities have faced over the last few years due to Apple’s Cloud, and its dodgy terms and conditions.