GOVERNMENT MINSTERS are apparently using recent terror attacks to bring in new legislation that would force technology giants, such as Apple and WhatsApp, to hand over encrypted data.
A report originating with The Sun claims that the Conservative government will lobby MPs to get the new rules, known as the Technical Capability Notices (TCN), through Parliament as quickly as possible after the general election.
"We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in," a government minister apparently told The Sun. "The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now… The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."
Companies like Apple and WhatsApp make a major point of keeping users' messages safe. However, if the TCN were passed then the police and MI5 could force firms to remove that protection. Tech giants have so far resisted any such action, arguing that building in alternate ways to access end-to-end encrypted data could be abused by hackers.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in November 2015: "To protect people who use any products, you have to encrypt. You can just look around and see all the data breaches that are going on. These things are becoming more frequent. They can not only result in privacy breaches but also security issues. We believe very strongly in end-to-end encryption and no back doors."
Cook made his comments shortly before the San Bernardino terrorist attack, which led to the FBI asking Apple to decrypt data from an attacker's iPhone (the company refused). Politicians have used this and other attacks, such as the one on Westminster Bridge in March, to put pressure on tech firms.
It's unlikely that your own data will be targeted, though: The Sun says that each order will have to be approved by a senior judge and signed by the Home Secretary. Only firms with over 10,000 users will be affected. µ
Social network handed over info in 88 per cent of cases
Straight outta beta
But quickly backtracks on sharp-tongued remarks