PM's plans to ban encryption aren't a good idea

10 March 2015

The internet, yesterday
The internet, yesterday

A plan by David Cameron to block and ban encryption has been found to be a rubbish idea, according to a study by the UK parliament.

This report, carried out by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, had a look at how the darknet (or Tor if you prefer) and online anonymity is being used. There's little public support for it and the Darknet and Online Anonymity report (.pdf link here) noted that it is used by criminals, but it is also used by journalists and whistleblowers and journalists, so if you're going to look at the ills, you have to weigh-up the pros too.

"There is widespread agreement that banning online anonymity systems altogether is not seen as an acceptable policy option in the UK. Even if it were, there would be technical challenges," it said.

One thing the report pointed out, was that one place doing this was China, and their governments attempts to squash communications is not something that would be good for the UK.

The report continued, for those who understand the jargon: "Some argue for a Tor without hidden services because of the criminal content on some THS. However, THS also benefit non-criminal Tor users because they may add a further layer of security."

"If a user accesses a THS the communication never leaves the Tor network and the communication is encrypted from origin to destination. Therefore, sites requiring strong security, like whistleblowing platforms, are offered as THS. Also, computer experts argue that any legislative attempt to preclude THS from being available in the UK over Tor would be technologically unfeasible."

Whether or not David Cameron listens to this report is quite another matter.

TOPICS:   Technology   Privacy

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