Monthly Archives: January 2015


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It has emerged that Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter terrorism co-ordinator, wants companies to be required by law to hand over encryption keys for communication services, in order to allow interception of messages by EU governments. The revelation came following the leak of an EU document by civil liberties group Statewatch outlining the proposals for discussion at an informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Riga on 29 January 2015. Section 3 (f) of the document states: Since the Snowden revelations, internet and telecommunications companies have started to use often de-centralized encryption which increasingly makes lawful interception by the relevant national authorities technically difficult or even impossible. The Commission should be invited to explore rules obliging internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide under certain conditions as set out in the relevant national laws and in full compliance with fundamental rights access of the […]

EU wants back doors into encryption Software


Kevin Rawlinson reports on the BBC news website that an attempt by four peers to include clauses from the defunct Communications Data Bill (the Snoopers’ Charter) in the Counter Terrorism Bill, has been aborted following a lack of support from other peers. The attempt by the peers to sneak in the clauses was widely condemned by privacy groups and the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA). However, BBC news understands they will try again next week, unless the Home Office publishes a government redraft of the bill.

“Snoopers’ charter” revival on hold


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Patrick Wintour reports in the Guardian that a cross-party alliance of lords are attempting to force a revised version of the so called “Snoopers’ Charter” into law via an amendment to Counter Terrorism Bill. The amendment introduces into the Counter Terrorism Bill clauses lifted from the now defunct Communications Data Bill, which was abandoned by the Coalition Government in 2013 following a campaign by privacy groups and the refusal of the Liberal Democrat’s to support it. The amendment has been proposed by a group that includes a former Conservative defence secretary, a former Metropolitan police commissioner, a former Labour defence minister and a Liberal Democrat peer.  Surprisingly, they did not discuss the amendment with the government beforehand.  If passed the amendment will give the Home Secretary new powers to require internet service providers to retain their customer’s web data and disclose it to public authorities on request. The amendment to […]

Lords attempt to revive the ”Snoopers’ Charter”



An article on the Conservative Home website written by Andrew Bower is extremely critical of David Cameron’s recently announced plan to ban strong encryption. In the article, Bower criticises the policy as yielding no security benefits while leaving Britain open to cyber attack and David Cameron’s vision of a Digital Britain in tatters.  He points out that technically it is almost impossible to implement, as encryption algorithms will still exist and can be re-implemented by programmers on all sorts of devices including legacy computers from the 80s. At the end of the article Bower said: “This proposal is totally unworkable and cannot survive serious scrutiny.  It will inevitably have to be dropped, so it would be better to drop it now and limit the damage to the reputation of our country and our party”. Up to the date of this post, the article had received 57 comments with the vast […]

Conservative party grass-roots not impressed by David Cameron’s plan to ...


Cory Doctorow the well known technology blogger, journalist and Science fiction author, has written a detailed review highlighting the huge technical challenges David Cameron’s recently proposed plan to ban encryption would face. Questioning if David Cameron understands the technology, Doctorow points out that for Cameron’s plan will require a huge series of restrictions on companies, individuals, open source software and the internet to be effective, because anything less would have no material effect on the ability of criminals to carry on secret conversations. If implemented, electronic communications of British citizen’s and industry will be open to foreign spies and criminals.

Cory Doctorow – David Cameron’s encryption ban would endanger every ...


Following on from David Cameron’s recent announced policy of banning strong encryption, it has been revealed that in 1997 the Government of the day had a plan to restrict encryption. The revelation comes in a long forgotten Public Consultation Paper issued in March 1997, which proposed that the use of encryption should be restricted to Trusted Third Parties (TTPs) who would be licensed and regulated by the Government.  These TTPs would provide a range of encrypted communication services to businesses for e-commerce purposes, while allowing the Government a back-door into such communications. It is clear from the document that by 1997 politicians had realised that electronic commerce was dependent upon secure communication.  However, as is the still very much the case today, they were paranoid that encryption would interfere with the ability of Government bodies such as the security services to monitor communications.  The document provides an interesting historical insight […]

Previous UK attempt to restrict encryption revealed



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The Scottish Government  has proposed to resurrect the centralised National Identity Register. The proposal is contained within a seemingly anodyne consultation entitled “proposed amendments to the National Health Service Central Register (Scotland) Regulations 2006”. In effect the  proposals set out within the consultation would transform the Scottish NHS register (NHSCR) into a full scale population register accessible to over 120 Scottish authorities, and once on this population register every citizen would be assigned a Unique Citizen Reference Number (“UCRN”). An excellent analysis of what is being proposed has been provided on the Hawktalk blog. The parallels this scheme has to the UK wide National Identity Scheme strongly debated over a decade ago are uncanny. The 2006 Identity Cards Act that was repealed by the coalition government also allowed any public authority access to the National Identity Register “for the purpose of securing the efficient and effective provision of public services”.  The National Identity Scheme […]

The Scottish Government resurrects the National Identity Register


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Nigel Morris writes in the Independent that the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has condemned calls for the revival of the Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the Snoopers’ Charter, following the terrorist attacks in Paris. It puts him at odds with David Cameron who has promised to give the intelligence services extra surveillance powers if he wins the general election later this year. Nick Clegg said: “The snoopers’ charter is not targeted, it is not proportionate, it’s not harmless. It would be a new and dramatic shift in the relationship between the state and the individual.” Separately, Simon Huges the Liberal Democrat Justice Minister has warned in a press release that introducing the Snoopers’ Charter is a step too far in tackling terrorism.

Nick Clegg condemns calls for revival of the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’


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Andrew Griffin reports in the Independent that David Cameron has said he would ban the use of encryption that cannot be broken by UK security services. However, such a move could mean that many social media applications such as WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime could be banned, as  they all encrypt user data. The Prime Minister made the statement while giving a pledge to revive the Snoopers’ Charter, to give the security services greater powers to monitor internet activity following the terrorist attacks in Paris. Many social media companies such as WhatsApp are committed to keeping their services encrypted and unable to be read by authorities, following Edward Snowden’s revelations on NSA surveillance.

WhatsApp and iMessage could be banned under new surveillance plans



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Bruno Waterfield reports in the Telegraph that the EU will seek new powers to monitor air travel and the movements of air passengers, in the aftermath of terror attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket. The push for enhanced travel surveillance follows concerns that the EU’s free movement zone makes it harder for security services keep an eye on jihadis with links to Syria or Iraq. However, Statewatch, a European civil liberties watchdog, criticised the plan and accused the EU of a coming up with a list of unworkable and legally questionable measures unlikely to prevent the sort of attacks seen in Paris. Ben Hayes, a specialist in EU security policy for Statewatch said: “On the basis of what is now known about the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the need to review existing security arrangements far outweighs the need for any new legislation.”

EU pushes for new powers to monitor air travel following ...


Ben Riley-Smith reports in the Telegraph that George Osborne has dropped hints that the Conservatives want to bring back the Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the Snooper’s Charter. It follows the terrorist attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket, and claims by the Head of MI5 that al-Qaeda is planning a Paris-style terrorist atrocity against Britain. Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP chairman of Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), also called for the security services to be given extra powers to monitor the internet. The Conservatives were forced to drop the Communications Data Bill, which would have given the security services more powers to access online communications, in 2013 following opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

George Osborne hints at bringing back Snooper’s Charter after Paris ...


Ben Riley-Smith reports in the Telegraph that George Osborne has dropped hints that the Conservatives want to bring back the Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the Snooper’s Charter. It follows the terrorist attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket, and claims by the Head of MI5 that al-Qaeda is planning a Paris-style terrorist atrocity against Britain. Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP chairman of Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), also called for the security services to be given extra powers to monitor the internet. The Conservatives were forced to drop the Communications Data Bill, which would have given the security services more powers to access online communications, in 2013 following opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

George Osborne hints at bringing back Snooper’s Charter after Paris ...



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SC Yeung writes on the Ejinsight website about a Hong Kong Government plan to replace currently used smart identity cards with a new enhanced version. However, the new card could present significant privacy concerns and allow the government to tighten social control and stifle dissent.  A  key concern is that the new card will have built in radio frequency identification (RFID) which will allow the device to transmit data to and from designated devices.  This could enable the tracking of an individuals movements without their knowledge.

New Hong Kong identity card will be smarter and more ...


Robert Mendick, and Robert Verkaik report in the Daily Telegraph that Nursery school staff and registered childminders will have to report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government. The proposal is in a Home Office consultation document to accompany the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently going through parliament.  It suggests that nurseries and along with schools and universities have a duty to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.  However, critics claim the plan is heavy-handed and turns teachers and carers as “spies”.  There are also concerns over the practicalities of making it a legal requirement for staff to inform on toddlers. David Davis, MP said: “It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.  Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising […]

Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers