A “hypothetical” proposal by UK security agency GCHQ to eavesdrop on encrypted messages has been criticised by tech firms and rights groups.

Google and Apple were among 47 firms to sign an open letter, saying it was a “serious threat” to trust and security.

The GCHQ plan would mean, in some circumstances, security services got copies of encrypted messages.

The technique resembled the way that GCHQ currently used wiretaps to listen to unencrypted chat, said the agency.

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