[ISN] E-mail safety code plans unveiled

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Tue Apr 28 1998 - 02:11:26 PDT

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    Forwarded From: Nicholas Charles Brawn <ncb05t_private>
                       E-MAIL SAFETY CODE PLANS UNVEILED
    PA   4/27/98 10:35 PM 
      By Giles Turnbull, PA News
       The Government today spelled out its policy on electronic data
    encryption -- the means by which people can scramble e-mail messages and
    other data to protect them from prying eyes.
       Trade minister Barbara Roche said the Government would set up a
    voluntary registration scheme for those using strong cryptography.
    Legislation would also be introduced that would give police the right to
    ask a court for a warrant to search computer files instead of buildings.
       A number of trusted third parties (TTPs) will be created with which
    individuals and organisations will be able to register their encryption
    keys. These TTPs will in turn be licensed by the Government to ensure
    public confidence.
       Encryption is essential to the future of Internet shopping and
    electronic commerce, but also provides criminals and terrorists with the
    opportunity to disguise their activities.
       As a safeguard, the Government proposes to change the law so that police
    or other civil authorities can request a search warrant, making a computer
    hard drive as easy to search as a house.
     Another plan is to create other certified authorities to guarantee digital
       But one encryption expert, Dr Ross Anderson of the Cambridge University
    computer laboratory, said the announcement was a U-turn of Labour's
    manifesto promise.
       Creating licensed TTPs would put great pressure on the public to use
    them whether they wished to or not, and was rather like introducing a
    voluntary identity card scheme.
       "The thing about voluntary identity cards is that eventually they
    usually become mandatory," he said.
       "I regard this as a U-turn from Labour. In their manifesto they led us
    to believe that they would avoid this path, but in fact they have followed
    almost exactly the previous Conservative government's policy.
       "Instead they should have left well alone and waited for a degree of
    consensus internationally. Under their present proposals, my electronic
    signature could be perfectly valid here and not in Germany."
       Encryption technology is powerful enough to protect messages and data
    >from even the most experienced computer hacker. It is a boon for
    businesses, such as banks, as more and more of their work is now done
    electronically, for example over the Internet.
       The drawback is that criminals can also make use of encryption to hide
    their own communications and data -- and some predictions have been made
    that as electronic commerce booms, so will electronic crime.
       Announcing the plans in the Commons today, Mrs Roche said: "It is
    important to make electronic commerce more secure. Users cannot afford to
    let the information they transmit across the Internet, or any other
    network, be compromised.
       "They must be able to trust both the technologies which allow such
    security and the commercial organisations providing it."
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