UK ‘snoopers’ charter’ is a horrible idea, says Dell chief

A back door into customers’ data will create more problems than it solves, claims Michael Dell

Michael Dell, the chief executive of American PC maker Dell, has condemned the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill – better known as “the snoopers’ charter” – claiming that forcing technology companies to provide access to their customers’ unencrypted data is a “horrible idea”.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Mr Dell said his company would follow the laws of any given country, but he insisted that breaking the encryption that ensures messages cannot be read as they are sent between devices will cause more problems than it solves.

“Our position on creating a back door inside our products so that the government can get in is that it’s a horrible idea,” he said.

“The reason it’s a horrible idea is if you have a back door it’s not just the people you want to get in that are going to get in, it’s also the people you don’t want to get in. All of the technical experts pretty much agree on this.”

However, he acknowledged that the technology industry has a role to play in helping to educate politicians and the broader government about the risks of the proposed legislation.

“We have an active dialogue with governments around the world, and certainly will engage with the UK government to explain our views from a technical perspective on why things may or may not work,” he said.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill, published earlier this month, requires tech firms and service providers to help decrypt communications if requested through a warrant.

Today, communications services such as Apple’s iMessage and the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging service apply end-to-end encryption, which means providers could not read the contents even if they wanted to.

The draft Bill also requires web and phone companies to store internet histories of every citizen for 12 months.

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