HL Deb 28 June 2000 vol 614 cc952-75

(" .—(1) No person shall grant or renew an authorisation under this Part for the carrying out of any conduct if it appears to him—

  1. (a) that the authorisation is not one for which this Part is the relevant statutory provision for all parts of the United Kingdom; and
  2. (b) that all the conduct authorised by the grant or, as the case may be, renewal of the authorisation is likely to take place in Scotland.

(2) In relation to any authorisation, this Part is the relevant statutory provision for all parts of the United Kingdom in so fir as it—

  1. (a) is granted or renewed on the grounds that it is necessary in the interests of national security or in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom;
  2. (b) is granted or renewed by or on the application of a person holding any office, rank or position with any of the public authorities specified in subsection (3);
  3. (c) authorises conduct of a person holding an office, rank or position with any of the public authorities so specified;
  4. (d) authorises conduct of an individual acting as a covert human intelligence source for the benefit of any of the public authorities so specified; or
  5. (e) authorises conduct that is surveillance by virtue of section 45(4).

(3) The public authorities mentioned in subsection (2) are—

  1. (a) each of the intelligence services;
  2. (b) Her Majesty's forces;
  3. (c) the Ministry of Defence;
  4. (d) the Ministry of Defence Police;
  5. (e) the Commissioners of Customs and Excise; and
  6. (f) the British Transport Police.

(4) For the purposes of so much of this Part as has effect in relation to any other public authority by virtue of—

  1. (a) the fact that it is a public authority for the time being specified in Schedule (Relevant public authorities), or
  2. (b) an order under subsection (1)(d) of section 39 designating that authority for the purposes of that section.
the authorities specified in subsection (3) of this section shall be treated as including that authority to the extent that the Secretary of State by order directs that the authority is a relevant public authority or, as the case may be, is a designated authority for all parts of the United Kingdom.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 44 agreed to.

Clause 45 [Interpretation of Part II]

Lord Bach moved Amdt No. 137: Page 48, line 5, leave out ("(5)") and insert ("(5A)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 138 not moved.]

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 138A: Page 49, line 6, leave out subsection (7).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 45, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 46 [Notices requiring disclosure of key]:

Lord Lucas moved amendment No. 139: Page 49, line 35, leave out (", or is likely to do so").

The noble Lord said: Here we come upon a clause that the Government have been kind enough to rewrite extensively and at the very last moment. I cannot pretend that I or anyone that I have talked to has had time to comprehend the details and effects of all these changes. Therefore, I intend to use my comments on this and subsequent amendments to explore what the Government have done and where we are now. It may be necessary. with the help of my colleagues on the Front Bench, to ask for a recommittal of this clause when we have had time to absorb the effect of all the changes, but for now I await advice and information from the Minister with great interest.

This whole clause is extraordinary. It addresses a problem that the Government imagine they might find their agencies in from time to time of being unable to decrypt information. In all the years that cryptography has been available, there has been only one case in the United Kingdom in which the Government could not decrypt all the files they needed on one particular pornographer's hard disk.

It is extraordinary that so much damage should have been done worldwide to the reputation of the United Kingdom as a place to do e-business, with anxieties and recriminations echoing round the globe from international lawyers to those who specialise in the Internet. I hope that we may reach a point with the Bill where we are able to allay some of the fears, but it will take a long time for all the damage that has been done to die away. It is extraordinary that it should be done, when there is so little need for this clause as a whole.

Encryption is in theory perfect. One can hide anything in a way that cannot be broken. Even if the clause were enacted in the way in which it was originally written, before the Government's latest amendments, it would be possible to hide anything one wanted. Internet communications will use ephemeral keys, and there will be no way of breaking that system. Cryptography has evolved in ways which have built-in deniability. The whole way in which the clause has been written assumes that there is only one key, which will reveal one set of information out of an encrypted file. But it is very easy to create a system whereby out of an encrypted file I can produce a Shakespeare sonnet or an order for hard drugs, depending on which key I use to unlock it. There is no way in which the Government can prove that there is a second key if I produce to them a first key.

One can hide whole file structures. One can hide the existence of files through the use of keys that go down in layers, so that the first key will reveal one file structure, but if one applied another key it would reveal hidden files below. If one uses suitable methods of hiding the files it is impossible to prove that the files even exist.

Cryptography using one-time pads is a technique we can remember from the war years. That is in theory perfect. There are still wartime codes that have not been broken because the one-time system was used perfectly. There is now the practice, which will doubtless be used more in future, of using data havens, of storing one's data remotely. Again, as long as one takes care to encrypt and hide one's links to it there can be no way of proving that one has it.

We are up against a system that is technically perfect, and the sort of attack envisaged by the Government will be useless against the serious and careful criminal. The sort of attack that works in practice, that has worked in all but one case to date, results from the fact that anyone doing cryptography is human, that hiding one's data in a consistent way is extremely tedious, and that people tend to take short cuts, and either as a result, or through the methods outlined in Part II—and there are plenty of them that can be used with computers—one can uncover the keys and the information needed to break people's cryptographic systems without going at it in the way envisaged in this part of the Bill.

What really frightens people about the way in which the clauses are drafted is that because they will be pretty useless against the serious criminal they will be used only against casual traffic, and, more important, will be available for use against messages received and communicated by substantial international businesses. Anyone who uses the Internet, which is essentially an open system—there is nothing secure about it—must use a high level of cryptography and assure clients, customers and associates that his systems are secure. Anything that puts that in doubt or makes business believe that by conducting this activity in the UK it lays itself open to international law suits or merely produces a loss of confidence that data stored in the UK is not as secure as data stored in a country which is not governed by this kind of legislation, even with the latest government amendments, will result in a substantial loss of business to this country.

I do not believe that business has had time to react to, and review, the latest amendments. We shall wait and see how it reacts to them and to today's debate. If, as I fear, the conclusion is that the Government have not gone nearly far enough, as suggested in today's Financial Times, we should either excise the clause from the Bill or insert a provision to say that it shall not come into effect until a further measure has been passed to authorise its implementation. A method must be found to ensure that the Government have those parts of the legislation that they require to comply with the Human Rights Act for the activities that they currently undertake but are denied the ability to trespass into areas where they have no present need to be, potentially at great cost to the UK's international business and its economic wellbeing, to use the famous definition. We should not imperil that for so little gain. If more time is needed to consider this matter and produce something with which everyone is content, we should provide the Government with a mechanism whereby that end can be achieved.

The amendment excises the words "or is likely to do so". That wording occurs also in several amendments to the subsections to Clause 46 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McNally. 1 believe that I see what the Government intend. They want to be armed with an authorisation to demand the key if they find an encrypted file when they search someone's premises. I understand that. However, in effect the way that the provision is written means that they can demand the key to future communications that arrive in the course of the next few days. Therefore, any business that is subject to such a demand must keep its whole cryptographic system open for the investigating authorities. It must leave a gaping wound, as it were, in its security until the investigating authorities say that it can be closed. There is no way to supply the text of messages yet to come; one must supply the key. To leave in this particular phrase is very much against the spirit of what the Government say they want to achieve in tabling their new amendments unless the wording can be tightened up to cover a much shorter timescale and allow the authorities access only to files which they are about to discover in premises that they are about to raid. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord McNally

I agree with much of what the noble Lord said. I added my name to the amendment because, as presently drafted, the provision seems to be "future proofing" gone mad on the part of the Government, as the noble Lord explained in his concluding remarks.

To save a repetitive speech, we have arrived at the crux of the Bill in terms of clearing the hurdle of business disquiet. We must all assess whether what the Government propose in Clauses 46 and 47 meets the concerns of business. I was interested in the initial reaction of one of the companies concerned, Vodafone. Its concern was that in seeking a proportionate response, to use a favourite expression of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, the provision leant too far towards the requirements of the relevant authorities and failed to take account of the needs of the businesses in question. A good deal of the debate on the clause will revolve around the question whether the powers that the Government seek are proportionate in terms of the real or imagined evils that they seek to counteract and the burdens that they place on business.

I am not one of those who believe that the new cyberspace technology is a zone that should be outside the rule of law. I still have sufficiently strong confidence in parliamentary democracy to believe that, as a necessary protection, all parliaments should be able to construct a framework within which people conduct their activities. I am not a member of the "cyberspace tendency" which believes that this is all beyond us. Who knows? Perhaps those countries which have not yet grappled with a legislative framework for e-commerce will regret it or look at our attempts as pioneering work in the field.

I hope that both sides will approach this matter in a constructive way. Industry, which has quite legitimately lobbied and stirred up media and political and parliamentary interests and obtained a response from the Government, should take a proper look at what this means for business. I also hope that, having emerged from its tetchy phase, the Government are now willing to listen to industry if further constructive points can be made. The context in which the noble Lord moved the amendment was extremely wise and constructive. If both sides approach this part of the Bill in that way we shall produce clauses that are acceptable to industry and provide a legislative framework for e-commerce in future.

Lord Cope of Berkeley

I entirely agree with the general points spoken to by my noble friend Lord Lucas. So far this Bill has of itself been extremely damaging to Britain's interests because of the perceived threats that it poses. Even if in the course of debates we make amendments which produce a Bill that is 100 per cent acceptable some of that damage will remain. I do not want to expand too much on that point at this stage, but I firmly believe that that is the case.

The aim of all concerned, including the Government, should be to amend the Bill so as to minimise the damage that has already been done and the damage that will arise in future. Part of the difficulty arises from the fact that the Government have been determined that we should be pioneers in this matter. I am all for Britain being a pioneer in e-commerce, and all to which that relates—the Government say that they are in favour of that too—but I am not in favour of Britain being a pioneer in threatening e-commerce. That is what the Bill as originally drafted did; and to some extent still does.

Keys, encryption and security are important to the Internet and every kind of e-commerce. At the most basic level, if I buy, as I have done occasionally, some item on the web and feed in my credit card number, I need absolute confidence that that number will not leak from the company selling to me over the Internet, otherwise I shall not buy from it; I shall use some other method. However, at the more elaborate levels of commercial and banking contracts, that concern is multiplied to a far greater importance. That is why the banks and commercial companies and organisations have been so sensitive about this section of the Bill I am not so alarmed by the phrase "is likely to do so" as the Liberal Democrats. If we are trying to gain information about an individual who is suspected of being, for example, a money launderer, and he is the customer of a specific bank, it is not unreasonable for the authorities to say to the bank, "We believe that you have in your possession the documents relating to the transactions already carried out by the suspect. We need to see what was said in those and future documents when he has further transactions". It is that kind of case that I believe those words cover.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, referred to real or imagined evils to be countered by these powers. Although sometimes the suspects may prove not to have done anything wrong, I believe that there are some very real evils to be countered. That is why it is necessary to provide the correct powers which will give safeguards. Nevertheless, we need those powers.

Because of the way in which the Bill has been prepared, this new dimension concerning the Internet, and so on, has had to be added on to the rewriting of the existing telephone tapping and surveillance provisions owing to the imminent arrival of the Human Rights Act. To disentangle them, or to put a hold on the Internet provisions until they are further refined, I believe would be desirable. Unfortunately, the powers are not in one single part of the Bill; they appear throughout. That makes it difficult to deal with them. Nevertheless, perhaps the Government could find a way to leave the Internet provisions on the shelf for only a relatively short period of months while we try to get them right. We need them, but they must be the correct provisions if we are not to destroy the British advances in e-commerce and lose the advantages that we have.

6.45 p.m.

Viscount Goschen

The noble Lord's amendment serves as an excellent introduction to the part of the Bill which has caused perhaps the most controversy. The issue of encryption goes to the heart of the Bill. It sums up the concerns of the industry.

We are not talking only about e-commerce, the new media industry, but about any international business which wants to operate, has existing operations or aims to set up business in the UK. A recurring theme has been globalisation. It is increasingly easy for companies to locate business where the environment is most conducive for them. There is no doubt that the issue of access to encryption keys causes severe worries among a number of major corporations, not only those involved in e-commerce.

At the beginning of the Committee stage, the Minister was good enough to say that he was in listening mode. He has been as good as his word—to the extent of rewriting the Bill for your Lordships' House. It will be difficult to disentangle the new provisions in the course of the Committee stage today. Direct questions need to be answered on the Minister's new provisions. We shall wish to return to a number of elements on Report.

As regards the amendment, it is important to emphasise the degree of concern which surrounds this area. We welcome the moves the Government have made in a constructive spirit. However, the measure will require further examination to see what needs to be done.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I start with an observation on the words of the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen. Throughout the Bill I have sought to be constructive and to offer constructive opportunities to all to make intelligible and intelligent criticisms. We have invited in all sectors of business. To my knowledge, we have not said, "No, go away" to anyone. That approach has now been widely acknowledged. Therefore, when the Government are criticised for extensively rewriting the Bill, or for putting forward provisions at the very last moment, it is because we have been listening—as we always said we would—and there is no other time when we can make these changes. I am sure that Members of this House will recognise and understand that.

Viscount Goschen

I complimented the Minister; I did not criticise him. However, I do not extend that compliment to his colleagues in the Home Office who have direct responsibility for this legislation. This Bill should never have come to either House of Parliament in the state that it has. Now that the Bill is here, I am pleased that the Minister takes note of concerns.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I am grateful for the compliment; I am prepared to live with it! I wish also to thank the noble Lord, Lord McNally, for imparting to us the knowledge that he still believes in parliamentary democracy. That was a valuable comment, was it not; otherwise why would we be here?

Lord McNally

There is a serious point. People out there are telling us that this new technology is so footloose and fancy free that it is beyond the powers of parliamentary democracies to control. I put forward the strongly held view that it is not.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I entirely understand. I have heard that argument too; it is interesting.

However, there is one consistent and recurring theme: that in bringing forward this legislation we have done some fundamental damage to this industry. I find it hard to accept that. I believe the legislation has been brought forward for entirely the right reason; that is, to find a sensible system of regulation. In doing that, the Government must listen to intelligent and well-founded criticism. The Government have tried to do that.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, referred to Vodafone's off-the-cuff criticism of the Government's moves thus far in bringing forward the amendments today. If Vodafone has further specific points it wishes to put, the Government will continue to listen. The Government do not claim that they are absolutely right, although they believe that they are. Nevertheless, the Government want to ensure the best legislation; legislation that works to the better interests of industry and government, but more particularly industry because that is wealth-generating and is for the good of the country's economy.

I turn to the amendments spoken to by the noble Lords, Lord Lucas and Lord McNally. I listened to what was said about, in particular, the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and I shall work through those observations. In particular, I noted the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Cope. That was a very constructive response to that particular clause.

It is understood that the objection is the futuristic element. If that futuristic element were to be removed, the Government believe it would have a detrimental effect on the practical use of decryption power. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, asked whether the power was required at all. The Government believe that it is. The noble Lord probably believes it is required, but only in very tightly restricted circumstances. That is where the debate is and it is to be hoped that at the end the Government will have got it right.

If the amendments were to succeed they would very much limit the effectiveness of the decryption power. The Government resisted such amendments in another place because of that concern.

It is recognised that there is a futuristic element in Clause 46(1)(a) to (e). The concern is understood to be that that would permit what are colloquially termed "fishing expeditions" for keys, perhaps long-term keys to future information. The Government believe that there is no such effect and I shall try to clarify why. First, it is important to remember that the decryption power may be authorised only in respect of particular protective material which has been or is likely shortly to be lawfully obtained, so it is very closely defined.

The Bill does not permit the power to be used solely for speculative fishing for keys. The Government believe Clause 46(1)(a) to (e) is needed for cases where there are reasonable grounds for anticipating that, for example, a suspected criminal is using encryption to protect material, and reasonable grounds for believing that the location of the relevant key to that material is known. In such instances, the futuristic element allows an agency to apply for the power to serve a Clause 46 decryption notice at the same time as an application is made to use the underlying power to lawfully obtain the material in question.

Perhaps I may give an example. It is entirely conceivable that there will be cases where the police have very reasonable grounds for believing that an individual is using encryption; for example, a suspect in a criminal investigation. The police could apply to the court for a warrant to search his premises. Therefore, the Government believe it right that the police should be able to apply for authority to serve a decryption notice at the same time as they apply for a search warrant. Clause 46(1)(a) allows that.

Similar considerations apply in other instances as set out in Clause 46(1) where use of the decryption power may be authorised. It is conceivable that there could he reasonable grounds for anticipating that encryption will be encountered in all the circumstances where the Bill permits decryption power to be used. That is why the futuristic element is included in Clause 46(1)(a) to (e).The proposed amendments would mean that an application to the relevant authority, be it a judge or the Secretary of State, for the power to serve a decryption notice could be made only after the encrypted material had actually been obtained under the warrant. Clearly, that could lead to critically damaging delays in what might be a very fast moving investigation. It is not believed that that is the intention in promoting these amendments, but that would, nevertheless, be their effect. The Government would therefore argue that for those reasons the futuristic element is necessary. Members of the Committee who proposed the amendments are invited to take careful consideration of the impact of removing that part of the Bill.

The Government do not say that the Bill permits fishing expeditions. That is not our intention. I want that to be clearly understood and on public record. The Government have carefully explained this to industry, not least the Institute of Directors, which quite rightly and understandably raised the query. It is hoped that with that explanation Members of the Committee who brought forward the amendments will feel able to withdraw them.

Lord Lucas

The noble Lord, of course, makes a very good point with which I entirely agree. I hope I said that in my opening speech. But where the police are about to raid someone's premises, or an equivalent venture is about to be undertaken, it is very sensible that the police should take a Section 46 warrant with them so that they can pick up the key at the same time they pick up the information. If these subsections were directed at that, it is not believed that they would cause any difficulty.

What causes difficulty is what the wording would allow; for instance, that part of the Bill relating to the interception of communications and the application for a warrant in advance of the communications. A person may go to a bank and say, "This person may be sending messages to you using your public key, and we therefore need to have your private key to decrypt them. We expect the messages to come in over the next couple of weeks, so you must keep your public key the same". That would be an extremely damaging position for a bank. That is what industry and I—and, I hope, the Government—would, on contemplation, find unacceptable. It is limiting the scope and timescale of the measure. It would allow exactly what the noble Lord first described, but it would not put industry in a position where its security system could be opened up and kept open. That is very much the import behind my argument. I do not believe that that question has been answered, and unless the Minister has any further comments to make we shall return to the matter at a later stage of the Bill. Unless anyone else wishes to intervene, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McNally had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 139WA:

Page 49, line 38, leave out (", or is likely to do so").

The noble Lord said: Our concern remain the long-term key which is the open door and the one which undermines confidence both in business and in civil liberties. It is believed that we shall return to the matter, and therefore I shall not move my amendment.

[Amendment No. 139WA not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 139XA to 139ZA not moved.]

The Earl of Northesk moved Amendment No. 139A:

Page 50, line 5, at end insert—

("( ) If any person with the appropriate permission under Schedule 1 believes on reasonable grounds—

  1. (a) that any person is able to put the protected information into an intelligible form,
  2. (b) that the imposition of a requirement to disclose the information in intelligible form, or to disclose the key to the protected information, is—
    1. (i) necessary on grounds falling within subsection (3), or
    2. (ii) likely to be of value for purposes connected with the exercise or performance by any public authority of any statutory power or statutory duty,
  3. (c) that the imposition of such a requirement is proportionate, taking into account the full consequences of its disclosure, to what is sought to be achieved by its imposition,
  4. (d) that the information in intelligible form, or the key, cannot reasonably be obtained by the person with the appropriate permission without the giving of a notice under this section,
the person with that permission may, by notice to the person whom he believes to be able to put the protected information into an intelligible form, require the disclosure of that information in an intelligible form, or, in the circumstances provided for in section 47, the disclosure of the key.").

The noble Earl said: At the outset, without a hint of criticism, I express both gratitude for and appreciation of the amendments the Government have tabled to this part of the Bill. They go some way towards meeting the concerns which have prompted me to table my own amendments in this group. My own view has always been that if we must have key disclosure, the correct methodology to apply is one where efforts to obtain plain text are properly exhausted before keys are sought.

Here I echo the complaint of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and promote the thought that recommitment of that part of the Bill should be actively and seriously considered. There has not been time fully to consider these amendments. The revised versions of the relevant clauses were received at approximately six o'clock this evening. I retain a host of reservations, but it may be that the Minister's explanations will ameliorate those.

Therefore, rather than launch into an exposition of my amendment, it seems to me that the most helpful and useful service I can offer the Committee is to invite the Minister to explain those of the Government. Realistically, they are the substantive business in the grouping. I cannot help feeling that that would make for a tidier debate and I trust that it meets with the approval of the Committee. I beg to move.

Lord Hylton

When the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, moved an earlier amendment, he went so far as to say that he thought the clause would be useless against serious crime. I apologise if I have overstated his remarks; I hope that I have not.

It would be helpful if the Government could say whether they agree or disagree with that position. If they disagree, can they say why?

7 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I thank the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, for his tactful intervention and helpful observations. I shall move through an analysis of our amendments and comment on all the Opposition amendments.

The group of amendments covers a big question: when should the authorities be permitted to require that a decryption key be disclosed rather than simply the plain text of protected material? The associated issue is whether a party in receipt of a notice should be able to choose which key to disclose, if there is more than one which can carry out the necessary decryption. That is an important, but nevertheless secondary, question.

I recognise that this is a crucial issue, especially for industry. We have received a number of representations on the issue from the British Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors. We have tried to allay their concerns by explaining just what the Bill actually states and what it seeks to achieve. We have also received helpful correspondence not least from the British Bankers' Association setting out its understanding of the way in which Part III of the Bill works. In the light of those representations, we have decided to recast these provisions. I fully accept that Members of the Committee will have to retreat and take time to study them in order to understand their impact more precisely.

In recognition of the views of industry, we made wide changes to Clause 47 in another place to add an extra test if keys are to be required. That was welcomed and Members of the Committee have proposed further changes. We have suggested our own amendments, which take account of the views of industry and cover the majority of points raised by the Committee.

Before addressing these changes, I should clarify one existing point on the keys versus plain text issue. In the Bill as drafted, there is already an extra test if keys are to be demanded. Imposing a direction that a key be disclosed is limited by Clause 47(4) to occasions where it is believed that there are "special" circumstances of the case making that necessary; and that imposing such a requirement is believed to be proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by so doing. I hope that that is clear: plain text first; extra test if keys are required. That is the important message which we must get over. If a key is required, the choice of which key to disclose, if there is more than one, rests with the recipient of the notice. The definition of "key" in Clause 52(1) applies. It could be a session key, a short-term key or a long-term key. The choice rests with the recipient of the notice and that is the important qualification which must be widely understood.

That is the position now. But, as I have said, parts of industry have voiced some concerns and asked whether we could find a way of giving greater prominence in the Bill to the disclosure of plain text and clarifying the issue over the choice of keys. Your Lordships' amendments in this group address those very points. We have listened to the genuine views we have received and have sought to rework Clauses 46 and 47 ourselves. The government amendments before the Committee are the result of that reworking.

The amendments we have tabled in the group seek to recast Part III in terms of our preference for plain text rather than keys; and to leave it up to the recipient of a notice to decide how to comply with a disclosure requirement. It is on trust.

We believe that the changes will be welcomed. We were certainly told by industry that such amendments would offer reassurance. Amendment No. 139D begins by recasting Clause 46 as a, disclosure requirement in respect of the protected information". The existing necessary and proportionate tests for the use of the power remain with the reasonableness test amended to reflect the new structure, to which Amendment No. 141B refers.

Amendments Nos. 114A, 114D, 114F and 153B follow suit by making reference to "disclosures" rather than to "keys". Amendment No. 158B inserts a new clause which, again, represents a restructuring to underline the preference for plain text. The remaining government amendments in the group— namely, Nos. 159C, 161 A, 171A, 183A to 183C, 195B and 225A—are consequential changes arising out of the recasting of Clause 46.

The point is that we have listened to industry's concerns and recast Clause 46 to provide reassurance. Disclosing the plain text of material will normally suffice and it is up to the recipient of a notice to decide how to discharge the disclosure requirement. The issue is disclosure, not key.

I believe that our amendments sweep up the majority of the concerns expressed by Members of the Committee, but a couple are left. These, too, cover some important points and provide me with an opportunity to clarify the Government's thinking.

As I see it, these remaining amendments are, first, Amendment No. 158C, which would mean that a requirement to disclose a key could be given only by a Secretary of State or judge where there are exceptional circumstances to the case. Amendment No. I64A would do something similar by replacing the existing Clause 47 and would impose further restrictions on the circumstances when a key—as opposed to the plain text—-may be demanded. Amendment No. 163 seeks to widen the considerations which must be taken into account in deciding whether it is proportionate to demand a key.

Let me take those in turn. Amendments Nos. 158C and 164 would both place further restrictions on the circumstances when a requirement to disclose a key might be imposed. I believe that both would prove too restrictive in practice. Both set the test that there must be "exceptional" circumstances to a particular case.

As we indicated in another place, we gave very considerable thought to putting in such a test ourselves, but we concluded that in practice that might prove to be too restrictive, with the potential to undermine the effectiveness of the power.

That matter was debated at the Report stage in another place, but perhaps I may explain it again. In the case of decryption requests made to legitimate businesses, a requirement to disclose a key, where the plain text is available, would certainly, it seems to me, be most unusual. The difficulty for the law enforcement agencies surrounds the use of the power against those suspected of involvement in criminality. In these cases—where there may be doubt about the bona fides of the person being served with a notice—requests for keys may perhaps be more frequent. The future is uncertain and we cannot know how often this might arise. But Clause 47(4), as drafted, limits the power to demand a key; and the case must be a special one. We believe that that is the most appropriate test.

The limbs at paragraphs (b) and (c) and the timing point at subsection (2) of Amendment No. 164 are exactly the kind of considerations that will need to he gone through with the existing Clause 47. However, we believe that the cumulative effect of the way that the amendment works is too restrictive.

In resisting the amendments, it may be helpful if I clarify again our thinking on keys. We have narrowed down on the face of the Bill the circumstances in which a key can be required to be disclosed. We have imposed an extra test and that has been welcomed. Members of the Committee may ask legitimately what kind of case we might consider to be special.

As I indicated elsewhere, we shall cover that issue in the code of practice, which should be available before Report. However, I believe that it may be useful if I offer some illustrative examples. First, trust, to which I have referred already, becomes an issue when there is doubt about the bona fides of the person or body being asked to provide the plain text. In a criminal investigation, for example, law enforcement agencies will need to be sure that the plain text of protected material is the correct text, otherwise doubts could easily be cast in court during a future prosecution on the veracity of the information.

The second example relates to timeliness. In some surveillance operations which involve interception, for example, it may be imperative for the ongoing decryption of protected material to take place in real time, or as close to that as possible. Potentially, delays could be life-threatening, and I am sure that we can imagine circumstances in which that may be the case. If whoever has the key to protected material cannot carry out the decryption quickly enough in time-critical operations, but the authorities can, it may be considered necessary to ask for a key. I believe that that example is clear.

I should stress that in certain cases there may be technical solutions to these problems; for example, where they affect the timeliness issue. However, the fact is that in some cases solutions—technical or otherwise—may not be available. Therefore, the Bill needs to have the flexibility to allow for keys to be requested, but only where special circumstances make that necessary and where it is proportionate to the aim of imposing such a requirement. I believe that that is an important balancing point.

Therefore, as are other parts of the Bill, Clause 47 is a reflection of the delicate balancing exercise that we are trying to effect in this area. I believe that in many ways we are trying to deal with a future danger. It is difficult, but we believe it to be entirely right that we do so. I would also argue that no responsible government could or should seek to do otherwise. I believe that it would be foolish of government to ignore that.

We made changes to Clause 47 in another place because we are seeking genuinely to strike the right balance between providing effective powers and allaying industry and civil liberties reservations about the Bill. I believe that the current tests for requiring the disclosure of a key strike the right balance and that these amendments would tip that balance in the wrong direction.

I believe that I may not have addressed fully Amendment No. 163 in my comments on the government changes. That amendment seeks to spell out one of the considerations which must be taken into account in deciding whether it is proportionate to demand a key. I understand the concerns of noble Lords but believe the amendment to be entirely unnecessary. The considerations that they seek are implicit in the proportionality test which is already in the Bill in Clause 47(4)(b). Why are keys needed? They are needed in order to put particular protected data into intelligible form; that is, to turn particular encrypted text into plain text. That is, after all, the whole purpose of the power.

However, in deciding whether to require that a key be disclosed in a particular case, the person who authorises the power will need to address the question of proportionality in its widest sense. That includes considering what kind of key it is, what other information it gives access to, its commercial value and so on. We would be reluctant to accept the amendment lest it implies that other equally important considerations are somehow not relevant. However, I believe that there is nothing much between us on this issue. We must all remember that Clause 47 imposes an extra proportionality test; one is contained earlier in Clause 46(2)(c).

Importantly, the safeguards provisions set out in Clause 52 also have an impact here. Clause 51(2) requires measures to be in place to restrict the uses to which keys may be put. Where keys are obtained, the authority concerned will not be permitted immediately to decrypt all manner of other communications or data belonging to the individual or organisation which provides the key. It would be unlawful for it to do so. As set out in Clause 46, there must be separate lawful authority to obtain the protected material in the first place.

Perhaps I may suggest that we now consider the new situation. At present, if the police request electronic data from a bank, they will, for example, apply for an order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and serve it on the bank concerned. In return, the bank discloses the data together with a statement attesting to its bona fides. The police do not insist on accessing the bank's computers in order to discover whether they are telling the truth. They rely on the bank's integrity and, where necessary, use them as witnesses. We envisage a similar scenario with regard to encrypted material. The exception to that might be where a bank itself was suspected of involvement in criminality.

We have tabled amendments in order to meet industry concerns. I hope that they are welcome. If particular issues remain, we shall of course be happy to examine them to see whether we can offer further reassurance and remain consistent with our overall aims. In the meantime, I beg to move the government amendment in this group and, in the light of what I have said, ask Members of the Committee to withdraw their amendments.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley

As others have said, and as the Minister acknowledged, this important set of government amendments was tabled at the last minute. I should add at once that I believe it to be helpful to the Committee that the amendments were tabled. I do not criticise the noble Lord for deciding to do so at the last minute. At least we know the direction in which the Government's mind is moving, and, in fact, they have moved quite firmly in that direction. At the same time, I am sure the Minister will appreciate that it has made it difficult not only for the Committee but for others outside—to some extent, even more so for others outside—to read through the detail of the Government's amendment and to assess exactly what they are doing and whether it is sufficient.

I should like to put on record that we have been much helped—at least, I have been much helped—by the ever-helpful Foundation for Information Policy Research, which earlier today put on the web a copy of how these clauses will appear if all the Government's amendments are agreed to. That makes for much easier reading than going backwards and forwards between the amendments. Not for the first time, the foundation has been of great help to us in assessing the way in which the clauses will affect the situation.

The series of amendments tabled in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, attempt to achieve something similar to that intended by the Government; that is, to put plain text in the front line and to allow applications for a key only when absolutely necessary. I accept at once that Clause 47, as it now is, contains the reservations to which the Minister referred. There is a difference in the wording and the Minister drew attention to that. Basically, the Government's wording continues to say that there need to be "special" circumstances, whereas we say that such circumstances should be "exceptional". That is a distinction, but I do not consider it to be as large a distinction as in some cases one might be led to believe.

However, a point on which I should like to be clear—I must admit that I am not clear about it at present—is ultimately who authorises the attempt to obtain the key as opposed to the plain text in a particular situation. As far as I can see, the person giving the notice does not have permission to insist on the key. Only the judge or the Secretary of State can order that the requirement can be complied with only by the disclosure of the key. That is the effect of the government amendments and those that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, and I have tabled. Given the drafting of Clause 47, the Government clearly agree on the importance of placing the production of keys in a significantly different framework from the production of plain text.

There are some other detailed points relating to the amendments, but I have dealt with the most important issue. If the Minister could give us an assurance along the lines that I have asked for, it would help us to accept the clause. He may say that it is obvious from the clause as written, but it is not obvious to me.

Lord McNally

I shall not go into great detail. From what the Minister has said, I think that we are close to an agreement, but we shall read Hansard and take wider advice.

We seem to be putting the plain text at the forefront. We have been at pains to make sure that the acquisition of the key must not become a useful end in itself, because that would result in an open door, which has caused a great deal of concern. The Minister has reassured us and, as the noble Lord, Lord Cope, eloquently explained, that was the intention of our amendments.

Lord Blackwell

Like other noble Lords, I listened to the Minister with great interest and appreciated his argument, but despite the welcome movement on plain text, there are still a large number of issues, both of principle and of practicality, on which I am not fully satisfied. The issues of principle are the broadest ones. Although it may seem reasonable to the man sitting in Whitehall for the Government to have certain powers for use in exceptional circumstances, that fails to take into account the perceptions of people outside and their fears about how those powers may be used. That goes to the heart of whether these clauses are appropriate.

Leaving that to one side, there are other significant issues of practicality that have not been addressed, particularly on clause 46. They go back to some of the points that my noble friend Lord Lucas made. The word "key" is widely used in the Bill, and the amendments, as though we were talking about a key that could unlock something simply, like a door to a room. However, developing technology means that, in many cases, keys will not exist in that form. As I understand it, the dynamic generation of new keys may be ephemeral and it may not be possible after the event for somebody to say what the key was, because it was simply generated, used and destroyed.

There are some practical issues that I do not yet understand. Do the Government believe that it is technically feasible after the event to ask people to give them information that will enable them to go back and decode messages that have been encoded and transmitted using such ephemeral keys? I am not sure that it is possible. If the Government think that it is, we need to understand why, and how it can be achieved. If it is not technically feasible, the whole apparatus will fall flat on its face, because everyone will move t o those forms of encryption that cannot be caught under the powers in the Bill. Only the honest and the simple will be constrained.

Even if it is technically feasible in a way that I do not understand, I am still not sure whether the language used in the Bill creates the powers to do whatever is necessary to understand enough about the systems that generate keys to give the Government the legal entitlement to find out how to decrypt messages. Whether the legal language in the drafting is right depends on the answer to the first question and whether there are technical solutions that will deal with ephemeral keys in particular.

I do not necessarily expect an instant response, but before we conclude, we need to understand whether the Government have answers to the difficult questions on the principles and practicalities of the clauses. If not, there is a danger that the legislation will be merely tilting at windmills and none of the aims of the Bill will be achievable as technology moves on.

Lord Lucas

I very much support what my noble friend Lord Cope has said. The important issue is the level of authorisation needed to obtain a key. If the authorisation has to come from a senior judge, people will take some comfort from the fact that it will happen only in exceptional circumstances. However, it might be that only the authorisation of an official is needed. How will the system work? Clause 46(1) allows the prospective key to be obtained in a wide variety of circumstances. Some information can be obtained only by having the key. If keys are going to be asked for frequently, it will be a tedious process if authorisation has to come from a senior level. To an extent, Clause 46(1) and the amendments rub against each other.

The Government also need to address the issue of self-incrimination. If someone knows that the data that they have encrypted will incriminate them, how can they be made to reveal the key?

Viscount Goschen

I welcome the thrust of the government amendments. Will the Minister tell us a little more about the special circumstances under which keys will be required?

Putting plain text to the fore is a move forward. I am trying to test how much the Government believe their own arguments. If there is a circumstance in which an agency of government has to resort to law to compel a company to give its information, is it likely then to believe the plain text which is provided? It is rather like asking someone to search his own house and then tell the police what he found when they arrived. In what sort of circumstances does the Minister envisage that plain text would suffice? One can imagine a number of such circumstances; for example, where a trusted organisation was asked to reveal information, perhaps, about an employee who was considered to be suspect.

But does the Minister feel that that would be the case in the vast majority of circumstances? Whether or not this will work, as my noble friend Lord Blackwell, said, will the circumstances be so very special or will the Government use the excuse, as it were, that the plain text is just not good enough once the Bill is safely tucked away on the statute book?

7.30 p.m.

The Earl of Liverpool

I, too, express my gratitude to the Minister for the amendments that he has tabled, which may go some way towards allaying my fears.

I shall refer to my Amendment No. 163, which is buried in this enormous group of 34 amendments. Where the surrender of keys is being demanded, it is essential that such demands should be subject to the appropriate tests of both reasonableness and—I use a favourite word of the Minister—proportionality. I am afraid that I did not have the advantage of seeing the government amendments at six o'clock last night. I saw them only this afternoon at about three o'clock. To what extent does he believe that his amendments have answered the concerns raised in my Amendment No. 163?

The Earl of Northesk

Like other Members of the Committee, I thank the Minister for his full explanation. However, I hope that the Minister will forgive me if I take up a few points.

I should say for the record that I acknowledge the benefit to be derived from the primary purpose of this part of the Bill. It is self-evident that, where criminal elements avail themselves of the use of the protection of encrypted electronic messages, there are strong arguments in favour of law-enforcement agencies having adequate and appropriate powers to access such protected information. I emphasise my use of the phrase "adequate and appropriate powers". Like many others, I remain unconvinced that the way forward is for the UK Government to take what I perceive to be unilateral action in this area. My personal belief has always been, and continues to be, that that would be better delivered by means of international agreement.

The reasons are manifest. While my noble friend Lord Lucas has already elucidated them most eloquently, they bear repetition. First, the criminal fraternity will, in any event, develop ways round key disclosure. For example, with the free availability of steganography programmes from down-load sites, it would seem that the Internet community, let alone criminal elements, have already discounted that part of the Bill.

Secondly, there are legitimate concerns that the imposition of that regulatory regime will act adversely upon the UK's ability to compete effectively in both the e-commerce and financial services industries, the more so given that those are such hugely mobile industries.

Thirdly, the more logical and effective recourse for law enforcement agencies in this area is through such means as forensic hacking. There must be a risk that that investigatory avenue could begin to play second fiddle to key disclosure. That would be extremely regrettable.

I have a few general questions. First, do the Government have a finger on the pulse of what percentage of encrypted traffic is derived from criminality? While I acknowledge that that is difficult to quantify, I have yet to see any figures which enable us to assess the scale and seriousness of the problem. Given the huge popularity of the Internet, logic leans me towards me the supposition that its use by criminal elements is, in reality, quite a small percentage of overall traffic.

The important point is that without that knowledge, it is all but impossible to assess—I use that word again—the proportionality of the Government's proposals.

Following on from that, it would be extremely helpful if the Minister could afford the Committee some insights into how other countries are facing up to that problem. In other words, how do the Government's proposals compare with practice, either existing or proposed, elsewhere in terms of scale and degree? Do other countries, particularly our competitors, have, or are they taking, powers to require key disclosure in whatever form? In the event that they are, how do their safeguards compare with the regime proposed in the Government's amendments. Needless to say, that is of paramount importance in assessing the sort of impact which the Bill may have on our competitive position.

I turn from the general to the specific. The Minister proposes a number of amendments which substitute the phrase, requirement to disclose the key", with, disclosure requirement in respect of the protected information". That is all good and well. That is an essential part of the recast of the clauses. I simply ask the Minister why, in the circumstances, and for the sake of consistency, it is not possible to use the formulation, disclosure of protected information in an intelligible form". In other words, I should be grateful if the Minister will explain the distinctions between the two phrases.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there is a very significant and important practical point at issue here. One almost tires of saying it, but the single biggest obstacle to the take-up of e-commerce is that of trust in its confidentiality and security as a medium of communication and exchange. It must be said that a regulatory regime which conveys the perception that such matters are being compromised is, by definition, antipathetic to the Government's aspiration to make the UK the best and safest place for e-commerce in the world.

To be fair, the Government have said consistently that it was and is their intention that only in exceptional circumstances will Clause 46 notices require the surrender of keys. But that is not the way in which the Bill was originally drafted, nor, on my reading, do the amendments spoken to by the Minister entirely resolve the issue. However inexpertly, my amendments in the group, Amendments Nos. 139A and 164A, sought to achieve the same objective.

I have but one more point of concern which is relevant in this regard and I hope that the Minister will assist me with it. I am uncertain how the new cast of the relevant clauses will interact with other legislation, both here and overseas. In particular, are the Government entirely satisfied that in instances where the surrender of a key is required, there is no likelihood that inadvertent breaches of contractual or legal obligations for confidentiality will occur? It may well be that I am worrying unnecessarily on the point but some clarification from the Minister would help.

Finally, like my noble friend Lord Lucas, I subscribe to the view that, in the circumstances, the best solution available is to withdraw the whole issue of key disclosure from the Bill. With the best of imaginations, it is very difficult to formulate the sort of amendments required to unravel the harm which those proposals may cause to UK plcs.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I am grateful to all Members of the Committee who have contributed to the debate. I am grateful also to all those who have made positive contributions, and most of the contributions were positive. I shall try to answer as many of the questions as I can, although I must study in some detail the questions of the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, and reflect on them because they were rather more complicated.

We can provide him with an extensive description as regards international comparisons but it may be that that is best done through correspondence.

The noble Lord, Lord Cope, asked who authorises the acquisition of the key in those circumstances. It is the Secretary of State, a circuit judge or magistrate or a police superintendent or equivalent in the Customs and Excise and Armed Forces. I believe that that answers that important point.

Quite rightly, the noble Lord, Lord Cope, was delighted, as we were, that Members of the Committee have been furnished so quickly with a revised version of the Bill. That was a helpful initiative. We also hope that the noble Lord, Lord Cope, and other Members of the Committee have similarly found helpful the document that we sent out to describe exactly how we see our revisions working. We shall continue to perform in that way because it is right that we put as much in the public domain by way of explanation, context and understanding as we can.

While no government likes criticism, it is essential. If it stimulates important debate and enables us to focus on hard issues, it does a great service. In this exercise it has been extremely helpful.

The noble Lord, Lord Blackwell, made comments that related to the point of principle and to matters of practicality. As I understand his comments, they seem very helpful. I hope that the way in which we have proceeded will be of help to him. When he reads Hansard I believe that he will see that we have tried to address points of principle and points of practical implementation.

The concept of "key" is defined in Clause 52 and it bears some close reading. If there is no key to encrypted data, clearly the powers cannot be exercised. The whole point about encrypted data is that someone somewhere will have the key to that data. That is plain.

It may be useful if I refer to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, in relation to self-incrimination. The Article 6 point can arise only in the context of criminal proceedings brought against a person who has been required to disclose a key and where the data that that key unlocks are used by the prosecution in any proceedings against that person. Clearly, that will not arise in many cases—for example, where encryption requests are made to third parties, communication service providers, and not to the accused. We believe that our proposals are ECHR compatible, even when the holder of protected data is required to disclose the key. Of course, the key itself is not self-incriminatory.

In our view, the correct analysis is that a key has an existence independent of the will of the subject. We believe that that was explicitly approved by the European Court in the leading case of Saunders v. United Kingdom in 1996. The court found that the right against self-incrimination does not extend to the use in criminal proceedings of material that may be obtained from the accused for the use of compulsory powers, but which has an existence independent of the will of the suspect; for example, documents recovered under a warrant. I hope that that clarifies the issue for the noble Lord.

The noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, asked about the circumstances. I believe it would be circumstances in extremis. He also asked whether plain text would be involved in the majority of cases. I believe that plain text will suffice in most cases. That is our clear intention, and that is why we have been more than happy to rewrite this in the way that we have.

The noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, said that he thought that our amendments had not addressed his concerns. The simple answer is that we already believe that the Bill, as drafted, effectively addresses them, but we are more than happy to consider further the point that he has made. After giving it further consideration, we may bring forward an amendment on Report that puts the matter beyond doubt. We are happy to look again at the issue he has raised.

I felt that the argument of the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, was based on pessimism. From what he said, it seemed that the imaginative criminal mind will always be so far ahead of us that it would be self-defeating to attempt the art of enforcement and the recovery of information. I do not believe that he thinks that is the case in his heart of hearts, but that was how it sounded.

7.45 p.m.

The Earl of Northesk

I actually said the opposite. I said that in pure terms, so far as encrypted data are concerned, the resources available to law enforcement agencies in terms of forensic hacking and so on, are better arms at their disposal than something that is so patently easy for the criminal to get round by being on the face of the statute.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I am prepared to take the argument at face value. I do not believe that the noble Earl has entirely disabused me of his intention. From what he has said, it seems that he believes that we should not be legislating in this area at all and that we should approach the matter from a completely different angle. That is an argument that rests on pessimism.

I said that I would respond in detail because the questions were detailed. I hope that I have answered as much as I can in what has been a useful debate. On that basis, I shall move our amendments. I hope that noble Lords will withdraw their amendments in favour of the government amendments, which try to answer the points raised in the various amendments tabled for this debate.

Lord Lucas

Perhaps I may return to a couple of matters. As the noble Lord said, the paragraphs of Clause 46(1) cover the situation whenever the police or the Customs and Excise are on a raid. It is inconceivable that under those circumstances the warrant will not ask for the key. In those circumstances the key will be needed; you will not trust the people concerned to do the decryption for you. Although the Government say that only exceptionally in the current set-up will keys be asked for, I believe that they will be asked for every time there is a raid. There must be tens of thousands of raids a year. Anyone raiding premises for computer equipment will go equipped with a warrant saying, "We want the key". Unless we have clear comfort by way of letter, I believe that we shall have to be firm on this matter on Report.

To throw another stone into the pool of self-incrimination, I keep my passwords in my head; they are not written down anywhere. Presumably, under those circumstances, I could not be asked to reveal them.

Lord Cope of Berkeley

I am still slightly uncertain as to exactly who can authorise a key as opposed to plain text. The Minister said that authorisation could be given by the Secretary of State, by a circuit judge, by a magistrate, or by a police superintendent or equivalent person in other areas. I am not sure how the police superintendent comes in at this stage. Reading the Bill—perhaps I read it wrongly—it seems that the warrant from the Secretary of State, the judge or the magistrate giving permission would, in various cases, need to state that a key had to be disclosed or was required so that the police superintendent or equivalent person could put that into the notice. If the warrant did not state that, the police superintendent or other person would not have the necessary permission. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems to me that one should say so—although I entirely accept the point made by my noble friend Lord Lucas that, if I am right, warrants habitually will state that. The definition of "special circumstances", or the use of the phrase "special circumstances", will deteriorate over a short period of time until it means practically any circumstances in which a warrant is served.

It is important to understand, if we can, what the line of defence is as between plain text and key. Is it the Secretary of State, judge or magistrate issuing a warrant or the officials of the law enforcement agency, the police superintendent or above, who are giving the additional permission for the key to be obtained?

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I believe the comfort the noble Lord is after is in Schedule 1, which follows on from Clause 46(7). That sets out the various levels at paragraph (6). If the noble Lord is not satisfied with the explanation I gave earlier, then I shall be more than happy to come back and provide him with some extra comfort, as we shall through all stages of this legislation. I trust that that answers his point.

Lord Cope of Berkeley

The Minister is very kind to look after my comfort. But the specific part about which I am concerned is Schedule 1, paragraph (4). That seems to widen the permission but is so obscurely phrased that it is difficult to be certain exactly what the effect will be in practice, at least as far as I and others with whom I have discussed this matter can see. In my view, it may well need amendment to ensure that the additional permission required to go for the key as opposed to plain text should be given by, at the very least, a magistrate in the course of giving permission for the operation to take place.

I can see that I shall not get much further with this matter this evening. We may have to return to this at a later stage.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

I am happy to consider the point the noble Lord makes, but I say that without commitment.

Lord Cope of Berkeley

I am grateful for that.

The Earl of Northesk

As the Minister said, we have had a useful debate, even if it turns out to be only a first trot round the course. I would of course like to be able to say that I am entirely satisfied with the outcome. But I hope the Minister will recognise why it is that I and other Members of the Committee persist in having residual concerns on this matter.

I thank the Minister for his assurance that he will write to me on a number of issues. Perhaps I may suggest that it would be helpful if he could copy that correspondence to others who have contributed to the debate.

There is absolutely no doubt that we will return to this issue again. It simply falls to me at this juncture to bang the drum yet again for recommitment. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bach

I beg to move that the House be now resumed. In moving this Motion, I suggest that the Committee stage begin again not before 8.53 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.