The 2,000-word joint statement said the actions of the Government 'could have far reaching implications'

Tech giants pen 2 000-word letter against snooper's charter

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo have written a joint letter to the UK government, attacking elements of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

The technology firms have described plans to force firms to help security services hack into devices as ‘very dangerous’ and called for a number of changes to the draft legislation.

The draft Bill, which was unveiled last year, includes the appointment of judicial commissioners with powers to veto warrants for intrusive operations and a requirement for internet firms to store records of data relating to people's web and social media use for up to a year.

It will also legally oblige communication companies to allow the government to spy on the smartphones of criminal suspects.

In a 2,000-word joint statement to the committee of MPs and peers, the letter said the actions of the government ‘could have far reaching implications’ and key elements of whatever legislation is passed are likely to be replicated by other countries.

The companies also criticised proposals around computer network exploitation, also known as equipment interference.

"To the extent this could involve the introduction of risks or vulnerabilities into products or services, it would be a very dangerous precedent to set, and we would urge your Government to reconsider," the letter states.

It also claimed that "as a general rule" users should be informed when the government seeks access to account data.

It said: "While it may be appropriate to withhold or delay notice in exceptional cases, in those cases the burden should be on the Government to demonstrate that there is an overriding need to protect public safety or preserve the integrity of a criminal investigation."

Although Apple is notably absent from the list of signees, Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, has separately criticised the bill in recent months and said that any attempts to weaken data security to provide a digital ‘back door’ for spies would also benefit criminals.

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