UK law could lead to ‘surveillance of everyone’s devices

UK law could lead to 'surveillance of everyone's devices

New UK Laws Could Normalise Surveillance of Personal Devices


The UK government has proposed new laws that have experts concerned about the normalisation of surveillance on personal devices. These laws, which are an update to the existing Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), are set to increase the already intrusive surveillance powers granted by the original legislation.

When the IPA was first introduced in 2016, it received criticism for being one of the most extreme spying powers ever seen. Now, with the proposed changes, it seems the government aims to tighten its grip on citizens’ privacy even further. One of the key elements of the new proposals is that messaging services would be required to clear their security features with the government before releasing them. Furthermore, the government could demand that certain features be disabled without informing the public. These intrusive measures have even prompted Apple to threaten the removal of FaceTime and iMessage from the UK if the plans are enforced.

Harry Halpin, the CEO of Nym Technologies, a privacy startup based in Switzerland, has spoken out against these proposed laws. According to Halpin, these rules could lead to surveillance becoming the default on everyone’s devices. This is a cause for concern as secretly tampering with security features that are designed to keep users safe is short-sighted and could leave users vulnerable to exploitation from both criminal and political adversaries.

Halpin also raises an important point about the potential impact on the upcoming Online Safety Bill. While this bill claims to be focused on removing harmful content from the internet, there are fears that it could lead to the mandating of backdoors to end-to-end encryption. Companies like Apple, Signal, and WhatsApp have already refused to comply with such requirements, citing the importance of user privacy and security. If both the IPA and the Online Safety Bill are enforced, the combined legislation could create a politically motivated environment for enforcement, making it easier for those in power to gain access to private communications.

“The thing about backdoors when it comes to communications technologies is that when you open them, you open them to anyone shrewd enough to exploit them,” warns Halpin.

The potential consequences of these proposed laws should not be underestimated. Surveillance becoming the norm on personal devices could have far-reaching implications on civil liberties, privacy, and the overall trust users have in the technology they rely on. It is crucial that individuals and organizations continue to voice their concerns and advocate for the protection of privacy rights in the face of increasing state surveillance.