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Eris Industries, which develops software that allows anyone to build secure, low-cost data infrastructure using blockchain and smart contract technology, has ordered all its staff to depart the United Kingdom
Eris Industries, which develops software that allows anyone to build secure, low-cost data infrastructure using blockchain and smart contract technology, has ordered all its staff to depart the United Kingdom due to what it calls “completely unnecessary” surveillance powers on data included in the government’s reintroduced Investigatory Powers Bill.
The reintroduced bill, which was blocked previously by the Conservative government’s Liberal Democrat coalition partners, will require internet companies to give security agencies access to encrypted conversations of suspected terrorists and criminals.
The bill is designed to update the UK’s communications data law and assist the security services in combating terrorism, and includes a mandatory requirement for software companies to include cryptographic backdoors, which can be accessed by MI5 and other government agencies.
Eris Industries, whose business is industrial cryptography, had said in January it would leave the country and move its headquarters to North America if the bill was reintroduced, and the company has now acted on that threat.
Preston Byrne, COO and general counsel for Eris Industries, said:
“If this Bill is passed into law, we are likely to see a mass exodus of tech companies and financial services firms alike from the United Kingdom. We are happy to lead the charge.”
The company believes the proposed legislation would prevent the use of its technology in industrial applications, including financial services, which need reliable, open-source cryptography in order stay competitive in a digital age.
The surveillance powers proposed in the bill are “completely unnecessary” and not justified by statistics or fact, according to Byrne. There is no indication individuals involved in terror attacks such as 9/11 or the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, which precipitated the first attempt to introduce this bill, used encryption to assist them in carrying out their attacks.
“The fact is, however, that cryptography overwhelmingly protects ordinary people, not criminals and terrorists, from harm. It should therefore remain entirely free and legal,” Byrne said.
The company has ordered all staff to depart the UK and conduct all future development work from North America, while Eris’ corporate headquarters have also moved to New York. Eris does not expect the move to cause any interruption to its services.
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