[IWAR] UK Crypto Ban?

From: Mark Hedges (hedgesat_private)
Date: Wed Feb 11 1998 - 18:24:51 PST

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    Insider rumors: UK to introduce domestic crypto bans next week. Mobilize
    against this as a threat to real national security. To read iwar moderator
    MW's views on this subject, you could view
    http://www.anonymizer.com/press/970917.7pillars.html .
    Excerpt: 'Escrow and government involvement are antithetical positions to
    safety, security, and, incidentally, reliability and serviceability.... As
    far as I can see, the real criminals are those supporting escrow, or
    blocking cryptography's use by the market--- they are allowing a situation
    to persist that perpetuates the risk.'
    >X-Sender: jyaat_private
    >Mime-Version: 1.0
    >Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 19:19:56 -0500
    >To: cypherpunksat_private
    >From: John Young <jyaat_private>
    >Subject: UK Crypto Ban?
    >Sender: owner-cypherpunksat_private
    >Precedence: first-class
    >Reply-To: John Young <jyaat_private>
    >X-Loop: cypherpunksat_private
    >From: Campaign Against Censorship of the Internet <cacibat_private>
    >To: ukcryptoat_private
    >Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 18:18:28 +0100
    >Subject:  Key escrow announcement
    >A source who is a lobbyist in a non-computer sector has just called me
    >to say that Margaret Beckett will be announcing a (compulsory?) key
    >escrow program next Tuesday.
    >So far I don't have independent confirmation, although Nigel Hickson
    >recently said here that he was expecting an announcement "soon".
    >Here's hoping we can get it out before the gvt machine controls the
    >Malcolm Hutty.
    >Campaign Against Censorship                    Tel: 0171 589 4500
    >of the Internet in Britain                     Fax: 0171 589 4522
    >                                     e-mail: cacibat_private
    >Say NO to Censorship         Web: http://www.liberty.org.uk/cacib
    >Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 23:57:32 +0000
    >To: ukcryptoat_private
    >From: T Bruce Tober <octobersdadat_private>
    >Subject: More rumours?
    >Free Life Commentary
    >Editor:  Sean Gabb
    >Issue Number Ten
    >Tuesday 10th February 1998, 11:20pm
    >"Over himself, over his own mind and body,
    >the individual is sovereign"
    >(J.S. Mill, On Liberty, 1859)
    >           Next Week's British Encryption Ban
    >                      by Sean Gabb
    >Earlier this evening, I was given confidential information by someone
    >close to a British Cabinet Minister.  I am not in the habit of speaking
    >to such people, let alone having them leak state secrets to me.  But
    >that is what happened.  In publishing what I heard, I am now risking a
    >prosecution under the Official Secrets Acts - or, more likely, being
    >made to look ridiculous if what I predict does not happen.  These risks
    >being accepted, here is the leak.
    >Next Tuesday, the 17th February 1998, the Department of Trade and
    >Industry will announce plans to outlaw the use of strong encryption
    >software within the United Kingdom.  We are to be encouraged - and
    >ultimately forced - to encrypt our e-mail only in ways that will allow
    >the authorities to read it.
    >My source was vague about the details of the scheme, saying that they
    >had not yet been circulated to the full Cabinet.  But I imagine that it
    >will be more or less a reprint of the Conservative Government's public
    >consultation paper of March 1997.  This came to nothing because of the
    >change of Government, and it was even hoped that Labour would have a
    >more liberal policy on Internet regulation.  However, Margaret Beckett,
    >the Minister now responsible for trade and industrial policy, is neither
    >bright nor forceful; and she was early captured by the officials who in
    >theory are supposed to do her bidding.  If next Tuesday's consultation
    >paper differs at all from the last one, it will be only in matters of
    >small detail and presentation.  For this reason, it is probably safe to
    >take the last paper as a guide to what we can expect.
    >The Government will propose creating a network of what are called
    >Trusted Third Parties, or TTPs.  These are to be organisations licensed
    >to provide encryption services to the public - that is, software,
    >consultancy and other support.  Because they have been licensed by the
    >State, we are to be encouraged to believe that they really are
    >trustworthy - that they are not distributing bad encryption software, or
    >robbing their clients in other ways.  But just in case we decide not to
    >believe any of this, it will be made illegal for any unlicensed person
    >to offer encryption services.  Here, it is worth quoting from last
    >year's consultation paper:
    >    The legislation will prohibit an organisation from offering or
    >providing encryption services to the UK public without a licence.
    >Prohibition will be irrespective of whether a charge is made for such
    >services.  The offering of encryption services to the UK public (for
    >example via the Internet) by an unlicensed TTP outside of the UK will
    >also be prohibited.  For this purpose, it may be necessary to place
    >restrictions on the advertising and marketing of such services to the
    >Enacted into law, this would make it illegal for me to copy encryption
    >software from my hard disk for a friend, and for computer magazines to
    >include it on their free cover disks.  It would also allow a strict
    >supervision of the material and the links given access to by British
    >sites on the World Wide Web.
    >The paper never clarifies why we need TTPs in the first place, or why -
    >their need granted - they can only be trusted if licensed by the State.
    >But it does say a lot about law enforcement and national security.  Or,
    >to be more accurate, it does say a lot in the usual code about the need
    >to fill in any last potholes on the road to a British police state.
    >Starting with the Interception of Communications Act 1985, the British
    >State has given itself powers of surveillance that a Third World
    >dictator might envy.  It can tap our phones on the word of a Minister.
    >It can burgle our homes and leave recording devices behind on the word
    >of a senior policeman.  It can trawl through and inspect any records on
    >us held by any organisation.  It can do all this without our knowledge,
    >and without any effective system of appeal and redress.  The relevant
    >laws are careful to describe the permissions for this as "warrants".
    >But they really are no more than what in France before the Revolution
    >were called Lettres du Cachet - things that our ancestors boasted did
    >not and could not exist in the freer air of England.
    >The spread of personal computers seemed likely at first to extend the
    >scope of surveillance still further.  This had until then been limited
    >by cost.  For all the theoretical risks, sending letters in sealed
    >envelopes through the post has always been reasonably secure:  the costs
    >of interception can only be justified in exceptional cases.  For the
    >same reason, most private papers are safe.  But the routing of an
    >increasing amount of mail through the Internet promised to bring down
    >the costs of surveillance to the point where everyone could be watched.
    >The storage of records on computers connected to the Internet promised
    >to make it possible for the authorities to spy on people by remote
    >The problem is the development of strong encryption software like pgp,
    >and its growing popularity among millions of ordinary people who, though
    >not criminals, have a strong regard for privacy.  It allows us to keep
    >our e-mail and private records secret to all but the most determined and
    >expensive attacks.  It gives to us the benefits of instant communication
    >and mass data storage, but keeps the authorities - despite their new
    >powers of surveillance - no better informed than in the old days of due
    >process and envelope steaming.
    >Therefore all the talk of Trusted Third Parties.  The terms of their
    >licences will require them to sell encryption software with keys that
    >cannot be modified by their clients, and to collect and store copies of
    >these keys for handing over to the authorities.  Last year's document is
    >full of promises about "strict safeguards" and the like.  But the
    >reality is this:
    >    The legislation will provide that the Secretary of State may issue a
    >warrant requiring a TTP to disclose private encryption keys... or a body
    >covered by that warrant.
    >No mention of judicial involvement at the time, or judicial review
    >afterwards - just more police state commands.
    >We can ignore anything the Government parrots next week about law
    >enforcement and national security - or, for that matter, child
    >pornography and complex fraud.  These really are just code words.  If I
    >were a criminal, or a terrorist, or a foreign spy, the last encryption
    >software I would use would come from a Trusted Third Party.  Strong
    >encryption packages are available all over the Internet, or can pass
    >from hand to hand on a single floppy disk.  Nor would I worry much about
    >laws against the transmission of data encrypted with unlicensed
    >software.  There are ways of keeping the authorities from even knowing
    >that an Internet message contains encrypted data.
    >Somewhere, I have an early version of a program called Steganography,
    >created by Romana Machado.  This takes an encrypted text and merges it
    >into a graphics file.  My version produces a visible degradation of
    >picture quality.  Almost certainly, the newer releases have solved this
    >problem.  Assuming I had them, and were sufficiently unpatriotic -
    >neither applies in my case, let me add - I could e-mail this country's
    >battle plans straight off to Saddam Hussain merged invisibly into a
    >picture of my dog.  GCHQ would never notice until the Scud missiles
    >began landing on Cheltenham.
    >No - the encryption ban will be aimed at us, the honest public.  We are
    >the people who tend to respect the law - or at least to be afraid of it
    >enough to comply in most cases.  It is our privacy that is to be
    >stripped away.  It is we who are to become like Winston Smith, living
    >for every moment when the telescreens are not monitoring our facial
    >Why this is desired I cannot say.  But we are living though an age of
    >withering trust in the common people.  In this country, we are not
    >trusted to possess guns for our self-defence - or indeed to carry carpet
    >knives locked inside our cars.  We are not trusted to choose and
    >administer our own medicines, or to bring up our own children in the
    >manner of our choice, or to decide whether or not oxtail soup might be
    >bad for us.  Plugging in the telescreens is only a logical next step.
    >Normally, when I write on these issues, I work myself into a frenzy of
    >pessimism.  At the moment, though, I feel rather optimistic.  Next
    >Tuesday's proposals will cause an uproar.  This will not come from the
    >so-called civil liberties groups like Liberty - excepting a few small
    >bodies like the Libertarian Alliance, they have all been taken over by
    >New Labour apparatchiks who can be trusted to keep their mouths shut.
    >It will come from the big business interests.
    >British Telecom is the third or fourth largest telecommunications
    >company in the world.  If operates in more than 40 markets, often
    >needing to provide its clients with very secure networks.  In the City
    >of London there are more representative offices of foreign banks than in
    >the rest of the European Union combined.  These have a taste for
    >confidentiality.  There are many other large interests - all paying
    >billions in taxes, all likely to be very hostile to any scheme that will
    >make them appear less useful to foreign clients.  We have a Labour
    >Government that still needs to establish itself in the public mind as a
    >party friendly to business.  These facts can surely be trusted to ensure
    >the dropping of a scheme that would not merely turn the country into a
    >full police state, but also do the greatest damage to British business
    >since nationalisation.
    >Or so I hope.
    >Free Life Commentary is an independent journal of comment, published on
    >the Internet.  To receive regular issues, send
    >e-mail to Sean Gabb at old.whigat_private
    >Issues are archived at
    >        <http://freespace.virgin.net/old.whig/>
    >Contact Address:                        25 Chapter Chambers,
    >                                        Esterbrooke Street,
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    >If you like Free Life Commentary, you may also care to subscribe to my
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    >be obtained by writing to me at the above address.
    >Legal Notice:  Though using the name Free Life, this journal is owned by
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    >- --
    >Sean Gabb                               | "Over himself, over his own  |
    >E-mail:  old.whigat_private            | mind and body, the individual|
    ><http://freespace.virgin.net/old.whig/> | is sovereign"                |
    >Mobile Number: 0956 472199              | J.S. Mill, On Liberty, 1859  |
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    >tbt --
    >|Bruce Tober, octobersdadat_private, Birmingham, England +44-121-242-3832|
    >|       Freelance PhotoJournalist - IT, Business, The Arts and lots more     |
    >|pgp key ID 0x94F48255. Website - http://www.homeusers.prestel.co.uk/crecon/ |

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