This blog posting represents the views of the author, David Fosberry. Those opinions may change over time. They do not constitute an expert legal or financial opinion.

If you have comments on this blog posting, please email me .

The Opinion Blog is organised by threads, so each post is identified by a thread number ("Major" index) and a post number ("Minor" index). If you want to view the index of blogs, click here to download it as an Excel spreadsheet.

Click here to see the whole Opinion Blog.

To view, save, share or refer to a particular blog post, use the link in that post (below/right, where it says "Show only this post").

Encryption For All!

Posted on 20th June 2017

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

It seems that the UK government is very out of step with the European parliament. This BBC report describes how MEPs (Members of European Parliament) believe that European citizens have a right to strong end-to-end encryption for all our online communications, to the extent that they want to modify "Article Seven of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights to add online privacy".

The UK government, on the other hand, believes that they need to be able to read all our online communication, in order to prevent terrorist attacks, and therefore want either that we have only weak (crackable) encryption, or that they have back-door access to our communications (bypassing any encryption that we use). The US government's position is the same.

Given the fact that the Internet is a rather anarchistic thing. with people bringing to market whatever will sell, and if something is banned in the country where you live, you can always use a service or product from another jurisdiction, it seems pretty unlikely that governments will be able to legislate away our ability to keep our messages private.

Personally, I want to have my messages on Skype, WHatsApp, and FaceBook Messenger kept private. Whilst governments may claim that we should trust them, and that their intentions are pure, and today those claims may even be true, there is no guarantee that this will remain so. If, one day, you find yourselves living in some totalitarian regime, how will you organise protests, or even a revolution, when your every message is being read by that regime? This scenario is what we are warned about in books like George Orwell's "1984".

The other reason why I don't want governments reading my messages is that they have proven themselves unable to keep a secret: there have been so many leaks and hacks of government held data, with that data being published in WikiLeaks or offered for sale on the dark-web. They can't even keep their own secrets, so how can I trust them to keep mine?

Of course, the UK is now engaged in Brexit negotiations. If Brexit goes ahead, the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights will not have any sway over the UK government, and they will be free to do as they please (unless citizens protest strongly enough). I am so glad that I no longer live in Britain; at least in continental Europe, it looks like my data will remain secure.