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Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo have made an unusual collective submission of written evidence to the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Joint Committee, in which they criticise a number of key elements of the UK government’s proposed Snooper’s Charter. They write: “We believe the best way for countries to promote the security and privacy interests of their citizens, while also respecting the sovereignty of other nations, is to ensure that surveillance is targeted, lawful, proportionate, necessary, jurisdictionally bounded, and transparent. These principles reflect the perspective of global companies that offer borderless technologies to billions of people around the globe.”
As global companies, the group are particularly worried about the extraterritorial nature of the proposals: “Unilateral assertions of extraterritorial jurisdiction will create conflicting legal obligations for overseas providers who are subject to legal obligations elsewhere.” There are two problems here. First, the five companies are already subject to US law; and second, if the UK government claims it has a right to instruct companies located outside the UK what to do, other nations—including places like China and Russia—will be able to do the same.
To resolve problems of clashing jurisdictions, the US companies suggest: “the Bill should consistently and explicitly state that no company is required to comply with any notice/warrant, which in doing so would contravene its legal obligations in other jurisdictions.” In the longer term, the companies suggest “an international framework should be developed to establish a common set of rules to resolve these conflicts across jurisdictions.”
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