Most Brits Don’t Want Snoopers’ Charter – Report

The British public has given a resounding thumbs down to the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) working its way through parliament, with over three-quarters (76%) concerned it will green light increased government snooping powers, according to new research.

The findings come from a new survey commissioned by digital cert security firm Venafi to accompany a new report, titled: Government Powers and the End of Corporate Control Over Privacy: A United Kingdom Perspective.

The survey found two-thirds (65%) of UK citizens don’t trust the government with their data, and even more (69%) reckon it abuses its power to access that data.

In addition, 70% think the government will abuse any new snooping powers it might get under the IPB, and the same percentage are against forcing companies like Apple to engineer deliberate backdoors into their products for law enforcement.

It’s a pretty unambiguous stance from the British public, yet the IPB looks set to sail through a parliament distracted by the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

The once chance rights groups might have to water down the bill’s proposals if the government decides it’s in Britain’s best interests to mirror EU data protection law in a bid to ease future trade talks with Europe.

If that’s the case then it would have to tone down parts of the bill that seek to enshrine the practice of bulk surveillance in law – the very thing which caused the tearing up of the old Safe Harbor agreement between the US and EU.

Despite the UK public’s suspicion of the government, the vast majority (69%) still believe that the US government has more far-reaching powers to access citizens’ data than its British counterpart.

However, according to the Venafi report, the opposite is true, with the current RIPA law meaning law enforcers can force individuals – including CEOs of firms that hold data – to hand over data without the need for a judicial order.

This law – parts of which are being incorporated into the new Snoopers’ Charter – could also theoretically allow the authorities to force tech providers to create backdoors in their products, according to Venafi.

As if to underscore the dangers of granting the authorities greater snooping powers, a recent Big Brother Watch FoI-based report claimed UK police have suffered over 2300 breaches over the past four years.

More worryingly, these breaches were a result of insiders – i.e. police and police staff – abusing their privileged position.

Venafi argued that given the current track the government is on, businesses should be prepared to hand over cryptographic keys and certificates during investigations.

To do this they need to get better at finding where these reside and who ‘owns’ them. Venafi claimed that on average customers find 16500 previously unknown keys and certs.

“Organizations need to know and abide by the law, and keep pace as more key disclosure laws and rulings are introduced in the future,” argued Venafi VP of security strategy, Kevin Bocek.

“This means that IT security teams must find where all keys and certificates live, establish ownership, protect their ongoing lifecycle, and monitor any changes. It is a fiscal responsibility to comply and failure to could have serious consequences for the business, executives, and directors.”

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