Challenge to UK government’s Encryption Meetings with Big Tech
On 24 September 2021, PI submitted a complaint to the UK’s data protection authority - the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) challenging the Home Office’s refusal to provide information about its meetings with tech companies around encryption.
Regulator: Information Commissioner's Office
Status: Open, complaint accepted as eligible for further review by the ICO (currently being investigated).
PI argued that the UK government, specifically the Home Office, should have disclosed information we requested about meetings between Home Office officials and tech companies around encryption.
The complaint relates to a freedom of information (FOI) request that PI submitted to the Home Office in October 2021. We asked for a list of meetings between representatives of Apple, Google (including Alphabet), Facebook (including WhatsApp and Instagram), Microsoft, Signal messenger, Telegram, and Wickr with officials from the Home Office on the subject of encryption.
The Home Office refused the FOI request on the grounds that it could neither confirm nor deny (NCND) whether it held the information we requested. The Home Office claimed that any ‘confirmation or denial’ that it held this information would jeopardise national security.
In our complaint to the ICO we argue that the Home Office did not provide sufficient reasons to explain how confirming or denying the fact of these meetings and who attended them would jeopardise national security.