End-to-end encryption allows journalists to speak to sources, and lawyers to their vulnerable clients. We mustn't let a climate of fear impinge on our right to speak privatelyby Edward Siddons / August 3, 2017 / Leave a comment
Since the gruesome attacks in Westminster and Manchester, end-to-end encryption has become something of a buzzword for the beleaguered government. In a recent article for The Daily Telegraph, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has returned to the fray in the most apocalyptic of terms: “The enemy online is fast. They are ruthless. They prey on the vulnerable and disenfranchised. They use the very best of innovation for the most evil of ends.” This measure, like all other digital surveillance measures, is a matter of “national security.” In the seemingly never-ending war of “us” versus an increasingly amorphous “them”, civil liberties promise to be the first casualty.
In a confused and confusing piece, Rudd dismisses a blanket ban on encrypted messaging, instead proposing “specific, targeted” surveillance. Despite her claims to the contrary, such measures would require a backdoor, a hole in the encryption software which government and tech companies—not to mention hackers—would be able to exploit. Renate Simpson, Chief Executive of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, has characterised Rudd’s remarks as “at best naïve, at worst dangerous.”