The U.K. Parliament is currently debating a bill called the Investigatory Powers Bill. You need to know about it not only because it brought six of the world's largest tech companies together in opposition, but because it could be a look at the future of digital privacy in the U.S.
The bill is meant to set the powers and limits the U.K. government can engage in for collecting data. As an example, the bill would force U.K. Internet service providers to keep records of activity for 12 months and collect personal data on users. However, the world's major tech companies had some other worries.
Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo penned a letter submitted as evidence in the debate. The letter lays out some of the concerns in the bill and what Parliament can do to alleviate them.
As an example, the bill would require major tech companies to break encryption and other security to help with investigations. This would require a warrant and be done on a "case-by-case" basis when "reasonably practical." The companies requested an amendment to acknowledge that in many cases, such as communication with end-to-end encryption, complying with the law would never be "reasonably practical."
The companies also took exception to the "Technical Capability Notice" requirements, which in essence force companies to build back doors into their security systems. They pointed out not only the legal problems for international companies and the lack of oversight on requests, but that once a back door is created the damage to security is done.
The companies also noted the future possibility of international companies needing to comply with rules from multiple countries. They suggested that the U.K., U.S. and other countries put together a common framework that the companies could abide by.
Overall, the sense of the bill is that the authors don't have a lot of technical experience and aren't placing a high priority on personal privacy. Hopefully, Parliament will take the advice of the six largest tech companies in the world and make some changes.