The UK Government, in partnership with the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America, has warned that it will consider 'technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures' to gain access to encrypted communications data - potentially including mandatory back doors.
The UK Government has made no secret of the fact it considers strong encryption, which keeps everything from banking transactions to terroristic plans safe from observation and tampering, a target: In March 2017 Home Secretary Amber Rudd spoke out against strong cryptography, later claiming that 'real people' don't care about encryption and, by extension, privacy.
Now, the Government - alongside the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States of America, who are all part of a joint intelligence programme dubbed 'Five Eyes' - has warned that it will see nebulous measures to access presently-encrypted data - suggesting that, despite campaigners and industry experts pointing out what a terrible idea it would be, it may seek mandatory back doors in all cryptographic systems.
'The Governments of the Five Eyes encourage information and communications technology service providers to voluntarily establish lawful access solutions to their products and services that they create or operate in our countries,' a joint statement, published on the Australian Government's Department of Home Affairs website but not yet available on the UK's equivalent, explains. 'Governments should not favour a particular technology; instead, providers may create customised solutions, tailored to their individual system architectures that are capable of meeting lawful access requirements. Such solutions can be a constructive approach to current challenges.
'Should governments continue to encounter impediments to lawful access to information necessary to aid the protection of the citizens of our countries, we may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.'
Privacy campaigners are, naturally, unimpressed. 'Our political leaders are putting people around the world at greater risk of crime when they call for greater powers to weaken our digital security,' claims the Open Rights Group's Jim Killock, who is one of the signatories to an open letter (PDF warning) warning of the risks involved in deliberately weakening encryption. 'Security experts and cryptographers are as united in their views on encryption as scientists are on climate change. Politicians need to listen to them before they make decisions that could put us all at risk.'
November 22 2019 | 13:00