UK and US Sign Historic Data Access
On Thursday 3 October, the UK and US governments signed an agreement that will enable British law enforcement to access electronic data related to serious crime directly from US technology companies.
As techUK has called for in the past, international agreements are the only sustainable solution to addressing complex legal barriers to the lawful disclosure of data across jurisdictions. Currently, requests for communications data from law enforcement agencies are submitted via Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs), which can often take months and even years to complete.
The UK-US Bilateral Data Access Agreement, signed by the Home Secretary Priti Patel and US Attorney General William Barr, will speed this process up significantly and give technology companies a clear legal framework through which to share data with the security services.
The agreement coincided with the publication of an open letter, from the US, UK and Australian governments, to Mark Zuckerberg regarding Facebook’s plans to implement end to end encryption across its messaging services.
The letter outlines the government’s backing for strong encryption and its support for the tech sector’s commitment to protecting user data, but calls for Facebook to end its plans to implement end to end encryption on its messaging platforms.
Strong encryption is vital for ensuring the security of digital services and any limiting of its use will harm efforts to keep people secure online.
The tech industry is committed to working lawfully with both the police and the security services to prevent the misuse of technology and digital services for illegal activity. Tech companies already undertake extensive work to identify and report illegal activity on their platforms, through strictly enforcing community standards and policies, and the use of end-to-end encryption will not stop this vital work.
Bad actors will continue to be investigated through, for example, the use of analysing metadata to detect patterns of activity or identifying IP addresses and contact lists. Investment in this type of work will continue and the sector is committed to working with government, and with each other, to ensure that there is a common global approach to maintaining both privacy and safety as technology evolves.
The announcement of the new UK-US Bilateral Data Access Agreement will help in this regard, speeding up investigations and giving tech companies a clear legal framework with which to work with the security services.
In a world of increasing cyber threats, the ability to have private sensitive calls and messages without the threat of these being hacked is essential to ensuring the security of millions of UK citizens every day.
Although there are no simple answers here, it does not mean that this is an unsolvable problem. Government and industry must continue to work together to find good and effective solutions to law enforcement challenges that do not put millions of innocent users at risk by restricting the use of encryption or implementing so-called back doors.
Latest News from
techUK sets out recommendations to help guide CISOs as organisations continue their digital transformation02/12/2021 16:25:00
techUK launches the second report in its Cyber People Series.
Regional leadership is key to a successful Digital Strategy02/12/2021 11:25:00
Guest blog by Helen Milner OBE, Group CEO, Good Things Foundation.
techUK joins Global Industry Statement in support of the moratorium on customs duties01/12/2021 11:25:00
techUK joins a Global Industry Statement in support of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions.
techUK, UKIBC and NASSCOM develop joint position paper to drive growth in digital trade29/11/2021 16:25:00
UKIBC, NASSCOM, and techUK have come together to develop a joint position paper on a policy agenda for both governments to consider in relation to cross-border data transfers between the UK and India.
Defence Secretary’s HoC Statement on Army Restructuring29/11/2021 13:33:00
HoC Oral Statement: Army Restructuring: Future Soldier (26 November 2021).
NCSC & KMPG UK launch results of second cyber Diversity and Inclusion Survey29/11/2021 11:25:00
Key findings from the 2021 help identify where progress has been made in the sector and where there’s more work to be done.
PSTI Bill reforms the Electronic Communications Code for telecoms infrastructure deployment26/11/2021 16:25:00
Reforms to the Electronic Communications Code are set to become law as DCMS introduces the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Bill, which government suggests will further accelerate the rollout of mobile and fixed infrastructure.
Ministry of Defence publishes modern slavery statement26/11/2021 14:38:00
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is committed to playing its part in the eradication of modern slavery.
Edge computing will be a fundamental part of cloud adoption in 202226/11/2021 11:25:00
As a form of distributed computing that brings processing closer to the source of data, edge computing enables businesses to understand and unlock the value of data assets in real time to make key business decisions.