Are the kinds of surveillance bills that are being developed in the UK (the investigatory powers bill) and the USA (the new draft encryption bill) really needed? Is it not the case that the governments of these countries already have the legal justification to prosecute people suspected of hiding important information with encryption (such as charging obstruction of justice)? Is it the case that these kinds of powers are designed to enable new remote/mass surveillance clearly within the legal system?

  • Are you sure that these two bills do the same thing? You seem to be suggesting that the UK bill gives a legal justification for prosecution. The main point of the USA bill is to make it possible for the government to service warrants on encrypted devices. Note that such warrants may be served after the owner or operator of the device is dead, e.g. the San Bernardino attackers. So prosecutorial power is irrelevant. It's really a technical issue: how to compromise encryption on a device without help from the user.
    – Brythan
    Apr 9, 2016 at 4:25
  • @Brythan It isn't about the warrants; the government already has the ability to serve a warrant for the information. What they lacked was the authority to force the controlling party to provide a method to decrypt the information. They want more legislative authority behind the All Writs Act. Apr 9, 2016 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


For the law introduced in the US, legislative action is required. However, the current draft "Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016," is insufficient.

The current draft forces individuals with unintelligible information, to which the government wants access, to make that information intelligible available.

This would be down by increasing the authority behind the All Writs Act.

The downside is that the current draft of the law ignores the Constitutional protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .