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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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British Government wants back doors

3 August 2017

In another move, designed to completely destroy the right to privacy, the British government has effectively said that it wants technology companies who provide end-to-end encryption services, to provide back doors that would allow its agencies access to the communications otherwise hidden from their view.

Excuse me?

I think we all know what the UK government can do with that idea.

Are they really naive enough to believe that back doors and security can be mixed in this way?

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has told the media that "there is a problem in terms of the growth of end-to-end encryption. It's a problem for the security services and for police who are not, under the normal way, under properly warranted paths, able to access that information."

Rudd also said that she wanted the tech companies involved in providing encryption solutions to "work more closely with us on end-to-end encryption so that where there is particular need, where there is a target need, under warrant, they share more information with us so that we can access it."

Are you kidding me?

"All your communications are belong to us" (to play on an old arcade game phrase).

Will tech companies comply and incorporate back doors to allow police and other government agencies to spy on encrypted communications?

If they do, then this is proof that they are not actually providing a secure service and shouldn't even be considered as an option when privacy and security are required.

If the government legislates that companies must comply, this leaves them in a rather invidious position. If they do comply and are called on to hand over the keys then their clients will soon find out that their links are not truly secure and likely that company will take a huge hit in terms of sales and revenues.

Indeed, if such legislation is imposed, any company which continues to offer end-to-end encryption and continues to trade is effectively telling its clients that their comms have a back-door which is available to police (and perhaps savvy hackers). I for one would not use such a service and I suspect that many others would likewise avoid it.

Perhaps this will see a huge rise in open-source software that can be used by individuals and commercial enterprises alike to create the secure end-to-end communications they seek. Indeed, I suspect that terrorists would be amongst the first to jump on that bandwagon.

Will such open-sourced software, or at least the use of such software, be considered an illegal act by the Brits?

If so then one would surely expect to see another law passed which made whispering illegal -- since obviously the UK government is saying that nobody is allowed any secrets in the state of Great Britainstan.

Okay, I do see what the authorities are trying to do -- keep the nation safe against malevolent actors -- but really, if you deny your people the right to privacy and if you deny your businesses the right to security of communications then what is the point in having a nation at all?

How crazy the UK is becoming (has become?)

Pretty soon drones will be treated like firearms (requiring registration as well as safety courses to have been passed) and end-to-end encryption technology will be treated as an even greater risk to public safety.

Gosh, this reminds me of the early days of PGP when encryption software was classified by the US government as munitions.

It is unbelievable that every time we take a step forwards in terms of technology, the dullards at the wheel of government automatically take two steps backwards with restrictions.

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