Yesterday, David Cameron gave a speech aimed at improving national security in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks last week in Paris.
In doing so, he indicated that he intends to put a stop of end-to-end encryption, at least for messaging services.
This is lunacy.
Encryption is the technology that ensures that my information is kept secure and can only be read by the intended recipient. This includes my bank details when looking at my bank account, credit card details when shopping online, social security numbers, driver’s license details and any number of less-sensitive but not-publicly-appropriate data.
His proposals are not only worryingly Draconian, but a potential nightmare – does this mean we’ll be shopping without encryption? Count me out. Does this mean that people need to be (more) concerned about sending… sensitive… photos to their partners? Not that I was ever in, but count me out.
The Guardian wrote a nice piece about how David Cameron’s proposals could cause various troubles for British society. I’m firmly in agreement with how ridiculous the proposals are and don’t believe for a second that the supposed benefits (being able to intercept terrorist communications) will outweigh the economic and social damage it will do. There are always ways to circumvent restrictions, and terrorists will be near the front of the line of people willing and trying to do it. After all, if it came down to it and they couldn’t securely communicate online, they could just send a letter – that is unless David next plans to start reading our mail (literally) – or, you know, meet in person.
Further government insight into our lives is (mostly) unnecessary and scary (not least at the expense of basic online security (and by extension, commercial and national security). If we are to have any hope of a free and democratic society, the mere mention of these Big Brother policies needs to end.
David Cameron asks:
“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”
I think the answer is an emphatic yes.