IPB Only 12 per cent of the British public believe the Home Secretary has “adequately explained the impact of the Investigatory Powers Bill to the UK public and presented a balanced argument for its introduction”.
A survey on data privacy issues conducted by Open-Xchange has found that the "internet-savvy" public in the UK, Germany and the US are increasingly interested in policies affecting the online realm.
As Rafael Laguna, CEO at Open-Xchange, which conducted the Consumer Openness Index, told The Register: "We see there's an increased sensitivity towards data privacy and data topics, although of course different countries have different hot topics."
Debates regarding the UK's Investigatory Powers Bill, and the conflict between the FBI and Apple in the US, "have influenced people quite a bit, and they have developed stronger opinions."
Forty-six per cent of those surveyed in the UK said they paid somewhat close attention or more to the debate over balancing government surveillance with data privacy. This compares with 56 per cent in the US, and 75 per cent in Germany.
Historical national differences are lessening, however. While Germans were typically the most concerned about privacy issues, considering the partitioning of the country and the legacy of the Nazis and the Stasi, overall public opinion is becoming more similar, suggested Laguna.
In some respects, however, the UK remains more conservative than its left-and-right hand kin, with 33 per cent thinking national security was more important for the government to protect than the right to personal privacy at 11 per cent.
Only 12 per cent of the British public, however, believed the Home Secretary, Theresa May, "has adequately explained the impact of the Investigatory Powers Bill to the UK public and presented a balanced argument for its introduction".
Fifty-three per cent said they did not believe this, while 35 per cent were unsure.
The public is becoming more opinionated and more aware, said Laguna, who said Open-Xchange was hoping to raise that awareness and receive tangible statement from the government.
Fifty per cent of the British public believed that "making personal data easier for government officials to access will also make it easier for criminals to access that data as well", while only six per cent disagreed.
Laguna, who was raised in East Germany under the watch of the Stasi, said: "Everybody in the IT industry understands that there is no such thing as 'weakened encryption', there is either encryption or no encryption. I would wish the government would accept the statements of the experts and say 'We won't try to weaken encryption' and 'Of course, you can't outlaw maths, so we're not trying to do that either'."
Half of respondents said they thought the Investigatory Powers Bill's provisions regarding encryption infringed on the British public's right to privacy. Only 10 per cent thought it would not make investment in the UK less attractive to foreign companies.
"These discussions are raising awareness, and that's always the start of changing opinions," said Laguna. ®