UK Prime Minister Wants to Ban Personal Cryptography
In a coalition government, just stock-full of spectacular own-goals, from the backlash over forest-sales, to the 'omnishambles' budget and all the way to the original 'Snoopers Charter' back in 2012. While this was originally blocked by the Lib Dems, David Cameron has pledged to re-enact this train-wreck of a policy should he win this year's upcoming election.
Central to the policy is the question of how to deal with encryption and, in particular, its increasing (and increasingly complex) use as the UK's digital economy expands. Now, in a move that is on all fronts draconian, technologically illiterate, and economically damaging, the Tories propose to blanket-ban all forms of encryption. Asking the question “in our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which […] we cannot read?” Making a direct and either disingenuous or downright idiotic comparison between encrypted online messaging and the more traditional phone calls and letters, which can be intercepted and listened in on with relative ease.
Not only is this an affront to personal privacy in terms of what we do with our personal and social lives but on a level that involves many details that any self-respecting individual would bandy about, for example one's bank details. Presumably, should this become law it will mean the outlaw of all kinds of encryption; meaning anyone with a basic 10-minute crash course in 'hacking' could intercept messages. However, our online privacy (part of which means encrypting our data), is of huge importance in the 21st Century as our lives move increasingly online. From our shopping, to socialising, to banking, we are putting more and more information and especially sensitive information online.
Such a move would be a huge step backwards. The online world, at least for those in the UK, would become an ever more dangerous place, as we are no longer able to secure our information leaving it vulnerable to attack. Furthermore, as the Internet becomes a more dangerous place the nascent and much-vaunted digital and creative economy – that proved amazingly resilient during one of the longest recessions ever seen – would no longer seek a safe haven in the vibrant centres of London, Manchester or Bristol. Top tech companies would leave the UK's shores as they would find they were no longer able to operate with their peace of mind intact.
The ability to keep our data secure is of great concern, something that Design Pixel focuses heavily on, and it is important that the advice of industry leaders be sought before any radical and heavy damages are done to an industry that is worth more and more to the UK Government's as well as the country's coffers. The reintroduction of the 'snooper's charter' and its abolishment of encryption would spell disaster for not just an important part of the economy but negatively impact on people and their ability to maintain secure, modern, 21st Century lives.