Amber Rudd

UK government ministers are looking to enforce new powers that would mean the likes of Apple and Facebook would have to hand over encrypted messages to terror investigations within weeks.

According to The Sun, the government is expected to ask Parliament to approve the new orders – called Technical Capability Notices – as soon as the general election is over.

Each order will have to be approved by a warrant signed by Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, and a senior judge. 

The unprecedented powers would allow the police and MI5 to request that technology companies such as Whatsapp remove encryption from messages sent by suspects.

Social media giants have, to date, opposed any government-led action on encryption, arguing that building a backdoor into their platforms would actually help criminals exploit the services.

The news comes after UK security chiefs requested the orders be drawn up in the immediate aftermath of the Westminster terror attack in March, which killed four people and left over 50 injured.

Rudd drew some criticism in the aftermath of the attacks as some commentators labelled her call to ban encryption ‘naive’ but the Home Secretary has so far insisted that the encryption of messages on services such as Facebook-owned Whatsapp is “completely unacceptable”.

Today’s report comes after a leaked document made public by the Open Rights Group unveiled how the government was planning to force tech businesses to build backdoors into their products.

According to the document, the Tories have been planning somewhat extreme surveillance measures, which would enable them to spy on 6,000 people at any given time.

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