encryption


In a very interesting article on the Slate website Kevin Bankston highlights that despite claims by some law enforcement officials that encryption is a tool that will allow criminals to evade justice, the use of strong encryption actually helps to reduce crime. Bankston points out that although it is true that criminals will make use of encryption technology to shield their activities, the use of the technology will overall prevent millions of crimes.  For example smartphone theft is at epidemic proportions, with millions being stolen annually which often involves robberies which are by definition violent crimes.  However, strong encryption will block the criminals from using the commonly available tools to unlock a smartphone, rendering it useless to them. The article also highlights that criminals are increasingly not just interested in the phone, but also the personal and other data contained on it which can for example, allow them to commit […]

Smartphone encryption will help cops more than it hurts them


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Kevin Rawlinson reports on the BBC news website that the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), has issued a report which states that banning online anonymity networks such as Tor, would not be technologically feasible. POST, which provides analysis and advice to MPs on public policy issues related to science and technology also stated that there was: “widespread agreement that banning online anonymity systems altogether is not seen as an acceptable policy option in the UK”. The report highlights that anonymity often had legal and socially useful benefits such as protection of whistleblowers. While trying to block such sites would present significant technical challenges, as demonstrated by the difficulties the Chinese government is having with trying to block access to Tor in order to enforce bans on unauthorised websites. The report contradicts the view of Prime Minister David Cameron, who earlier this year said that law enforcement should be […]

Banning Tor unwise and not feasible, MPs told


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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



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