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UK Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act - RIPA


In February 2000, the UK Government introduced a Bill into Parliament called the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill RIPA).The aim of this Bill is to bring UK interception powers (and related issues) into line with the European Charter on Human Rights while updating UK interception powers to cope with technological developments such as the Internet.

In essence the RIPA will allow the law enforcement authorities to intercept any form of electronic communication and to acquire any electronic keys in order to decrypt the data. Note that such disclosure may require the holders of the data to breach confidentiality to such agencies.

This Act, which was given the Royal Assent in July 2000, remains controversial because :-

  • it is unclear how it can conform to the European Charter on Human Rights.
  • the surrender of a Digital Certificate to allow the authorities to decrypt the data (further) undermines Internet security and privacy in the UK.
  • Internet Service Providers must maintain an 'interception capability' to enable the interception of e-mail and other traffic.
  • it is likely to impose an additional cost on UK based Internet Service Providers; which will be passed on to both businesses and consumers.

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