The UK government published a controversial bill on Thursday that will give police the power to intercept and decrypt email and other communications.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill updates current legislation on the use of law enforcement agencies' interception powers to include technology that have been developed in recent years.
However, UK Internet industry representatives expressed concern over the implications of the bill, saying that the encryption laws were "impossible" and implementation would be expensive.
Home secretary Jack Straw said: "We have to ensure that the legislation keeps pace [with technology] - permitting interception in closely defined circumstances to protect national security and fight serious crime, while resolutely ensuring that citizens' privacy is guarded."
He said the Bill includes proposals to enable law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies to require any person to "provide a decryption key or the plain text of a specified material in response to the service of a properly authorised written notice".
Caspar Bowden, director of Internet policy think tank, the Foundation for Information Policy Research, said the law meant that anyone who uses encryption to protect their privacy on the Internet could face a criminal investigation.
"The Department of Trade and Industry jettisoned decryption powers from its e-communications bill last year because it did not believe that a law which presumes that someone is guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent was compatible with the Human Rights Act," he claimed.
"This corpse of a law laid to rest by Stephen Byers has been stitched back up and jolted into life by Jack Straw. After trying and failing to push through mandatory key escrow, it now looks like the government is resorting to key escrow through intimidation," he added.
ISP Demon Internet also expressed concern in a statement it issued today.
"Defined and effective procedures already exist for the interception of voice communications. However, the interception of data communications involves a much higher degree of complexity and is likely to require continual review given the pace of development in the Internet industry," it said.
"Given this complexity and pace, Demon does have concerns related to the cost and responsibility for funding the equipment required for interception, the estimates for the anticipated frequency of interception, the timetable for agreement of new procedures, and the timetable for implementation," the ISP added.
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