Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo! and Twitter have knocked back attempts to revive the government’s controversial online ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ in a leaked letter.
The letter to Home Secretary Theresa May describes the Communications Data Bill and new plans to retain British users’ data as ‘expensive to implement and highly contentious’.
It’s understood the Home Office is confidentially pursuing plans to create a new retention order which would force overseas internet companies to store the personal data of British-based users for up to 12 months.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to the Communications Data BillThe Guardian’s leaked letter dated April 18, which is no longer available in its full form, says this plan has ‘potentially seriously harmful consequences’.
It continues: “We do not want there to be any doubt about the strength of our concerns in respect of the idea that the UK government would seek to impose an order on a company in respect of services which are offered by service providers outside the UK.
“The internet is still a relatively young technology. It brings enormous benefits to citizens everywhere and is a great force for economic and social development. The UK has rightly positioned itself as a leading digital nation.
“There are risks in legislating too early in this fast-moving area that can be as significant as the risks of legislating too late.”
May and other hardline authoritarians in Parliament have been pushing to revive the bill since the Woolwich extremolunatic terrorist murder.
The CDB was put on the back burner in April’s Queen’s Speech after months of opposition from the communications industry, online freedom campaigners, and the Lib Dems.
If the international internet giants refuse to voluntarily hand over users’ data, it’s been suggested that communications could be intercepted as they pass in and out of British communications networks.
Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo! and Twitter also suggest an alternative to new legislation which could cause international political problems.
British and US security services and police could set up more efficient cooperation to request and transfer users’ personal data using existing powers and voluntary agreements.