Is Encryption About to be Banned in the UK?



  • Proposed legislation to close “safe spaces” used by terror organisations.
  • Questions over future legality of services using Encryption in UK.

Original Author: Assent Tech Risk
Original Link:


Last week, following the awful terror events in Paris, UK Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech promising a “comprehensive piece of legislation” to close the “safe spaces” used by terrorist organisations on the Internet.

The new legislation would give security services powers to view communications and their content, and although he did acknowledge that this was intrusive, he believes it is justified in a “modern liberal democracy”.

Questions and challenges quickly arose from press and industry sources framing the argument as a ban on encryption services such as Snapchat – a smart phone app that allows users to send photo messages that are encrypted.

These are questions that may not be fully answered until after the general election this year (2015), when the bill might be tabled.

However, this reignites the debate between security and privacy in the modern world and again drags private enterprises in to a difficult compliance environment.

This is not the first time the UK Government has reactively legislated to retain or increase, what they believe to be, important anti-terror powers. In July 2014 the Data Retention & Investigatory Powers Bill received Royal Assent, a piece of legislation that reacted to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling over the retention of communications data – i.e. information through telephone and Internet communications.

However, many cloud services struggle to understand if legislation applies to them, as often the term ISP (Internet Service Provider) is used. Often understood as the company that provides the physical connection to the Internet.

This is an evolving area of law and in many cases reactive to events around the world. It will be interesting to see not only which new powers are agreed but also how quickly they are passed. For example, can we wait until after the general election?