[ISN] U.K. Crypto Policy May Have Hidden Agenda

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Jun 03 1999 - 09:50:28 PDT

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    June 3, 1999
    U.K. Crypto Policy May Have Hidden Agenda
    Filed at 5:06 a.m. EDT
    By Madeleine Acey for TechWeb, CMPnet
    Despite its abandonment of key escrow, the U.K. could be counting on the
    ignorance of new Internet users to provide law enforcement easy access to
    private communications, according to privacy campaigners. 
    Following a meeting in London on Wednesday, where ISPs drafted a code of
    practice for protecting user privacy, ISP and civil liberties groups both
    derided British and European Union attempts to regulate the use of
    encryption, caching and unsolicited email. 
    ISP organizations, such as the London Internet Exchange -- or LINX --
    described government policy as "extremely stupid," "misguided" and
    "infeasible." But some said they found it hard to believe incompetence was
    behind it. 
    LINX chairman Keith Mitchell said the latest version of proposed
    legislation regarding law enforcement access to encrypted email and
    computer files was based on a "misguided conception" that ISPs would
    provide users with encryption. 
    A senior government official said last week the government expected most
    warrants demanding keys to encrypted material would be served on service
    "The only encryption of any use on the Internet is end-to-end. The keys
    are generated between the users. All the ISP is going to see is an
    encrypted data stream," Mitchell said. 
    "I still don't know a single Home Office employee that has an email
    address," he said. But of the encryption warrant policy, he said the
    government "either doesn't understand or is deliberately
    "I think they are deliberate," said Yaman Akdeniz of Cyber-Rights &
    Cyber-Liberties. "They don't want to give away what they want to do." He
    said there was a lot of pressure on lawmakers from the National Criminal
    Intelligence Service, which wanted easy access. 
    "The Home Office believes users will go to [third parties], like the Post
    Office, to get keys," said Nicholas Bohm, spokesman for the Foundation for
    Information Policy Research. "They should not be promoting a policy where
    private keys are generated by anybody but the user." 
    He, along with Akdeniz, said it was possible the government was planning
    to create a new market, favorable to easy law enforcement access, where
    new Internet users -- unaware of the tradition of free user-to-user
    encryption -- would go to "trusted third parties" for encryption services
    because they were endorsed by the government as safe. "If these new
    services are there, many people will use them," Akdeniz said. 
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