As the dust settles in Paris after the attack on “Charlie Hebdo”, politics in Britain returns to posturing as normal. Cameron states that the Tory Manifesto for the General Election in May will include promises to increase the legal powers of surveillance by MI5 to cover all communication. Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group writes a considered piece on what this might mean. The end of this road is prohibiting encryption for the use of ordinary law abiding citizens. The Killock article examines the current points of surveillance and asks how they can be extended and addresses the question of enforcement. The people they want to catch are criminals, one more law to break is not much of a down side. It looks at key escrow, and mandatory key surrender. It does not talk about the issue of privilege. It does not raise the issue of whether a politician’s warrant is an appropriate check to police power; the current evidence is that it is not, although it’s better than the self-authorisation by the Police that RIPA authorised. Civil Liberty campaigners believe there needs to be judicial constraint, or at least truly independent review.
The Guardian runs a similar piece here… and asks if certain, foreign provided services, would be prohibited such as snapchat which while snapchat is US owned, European single market laws might also come into play. Does he realise that this reassertion of the public saftey role of the nation state plays into the anti-european arguments.
I’d like to add,
- a backdoor doesn’t know who is using it, they have no moral compass, once they exist they are security flaws to the user who might or might not be a potential or proven criminal
- unbreakable encryption is needed for e-commerce, you can’t have authentication nor non repudiation without it – agreements to buy and sell are no longer binding
- if considering the issue seriously the question of privilege needs to be taken on board, which raises the NSA’s question, if tracking a legitimate and legal person of interest and they undertake privileged communication, do they discard the conversation as ‘non pertinent’?