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Tech Companies Are Outraged Over U.K.'s Spying Bill

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on January 11, 2016 12:59 PM

If you're lucky enough to be on one of the in-house counsel teams of Facebook, Google, Apple another giant tech company, then you've already heard about the U.K.'s proposed Investigatory Powers Bill. Your companies are not happy.

But what are some of the concerns that are getting tech firms so upset?

The Proposed Investigatory Powers Bill: Love, U.K.

In May of 2015, the United Kingdom's Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the Investigatory Powers Bill that included what some have branded as vague language calling for the immediate response against terrorism, organized crime, and cyberbullying. The bill also includes a provision for ISPs to keep a record of every user's Internet activity over the last year.

Gnashing of Teeth

Obviously, Silicon Valley is not happy and tech companies have united to voice their displeasure. Apple's Tim Cook used the term "dire consequences" when voicing his opinion of the Bill's potential effects. Some are worried about unintended (and inevitable) government intrusion and use of customer records. Other concerns include the possibility of their having to surrender or expose encryption trade secrets. Even Hillary Clinton got in on the game.

So far as we are able to tell, this sort of proposed law would be illegal in the United States and is at least looked down upon in the rest of Europe. Opponents have voiced concern that such a proposal in the U.K. would set the stage for similar laws in other countries.

They're Probably Already Doing That ...

The concern about government intrusion into customer's lives rings a little hollow, especially in light of the fact that some of the very same companies were rather happy to open up to government intrusion before the public ever got wind of Snowden. Anyone who honestly believes that private "big data" is highly insulated from government is a touch jejune.

Better start getting used to visiting only non-controversial pages.

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