back to article 'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett

Former, draconian Home Secretary David Blunkett – who held the post at the time of the 9/11 attacks in the US – has claimed that technology companies that encrypt communications on their networks are helping terrorists to spread fear. The Labour MP, writing in Saturday's Daily Telegraph, lambasted Martha Lane-Fox for telling …

  1. Busby

    Why would anyone pay any attention to a word that man utters is beyond me. Hard to think of many ministers from the Blair era with a lower reputation. Not exactly shocking that he is spreading FUD around a move that has been almost universally received positively by everyone other than the security services.

    All the encryption does is restore some semblance of privacy that Blunkett's government did more than most to erode.

  2. streaky Silver badge

    I pay attention.

    Every time one of these guys speaks I increase key sizes and trim older ciphers and hash algos and increase the number of rounds of sha-512 on our one-way stuff (passwords and the like).

    Still taking David? 4096 bit. Still talking? 8192 bit. Still talking? New GCHQ boss steps in. That'll be 16384 bit. Did you stop yet?

    I'm happy to keep throwing CPU time at this problem until the clowns say, y'know, we were wrong and - sorry.

  3. Ted Treen
    Big Brother

    "...'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett..."

    And I suppose those wicked stationers who make opaque envelopes preventing any old jobsworth reading our mail are just as guilty...

    Although without "brown envelopes", how would our esteemed rulers receive their 'extras'? - so I suppose they'll have to stay.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it wrong to punch the lights out of someone if they are already blind?

    The urge is strong with this one!

  5. Amorous Cowherder

    Given that he was a racist right-wing wolf in left-wing sheep's clothes, I wouldn't trust him as far as I could spit him. As Mark Thomas said at the time Blunkett was in office, "Anyone like to tell Blunkett his dog's black?".

  6. choleric

    Is there any way of discovering whether Blunkett held these views before he was elected or if he only started espousing them after being worked on by a few civil/secret service types?

    If he's serious then he really ought to have banned letters sent in envelopes while he was Home Secretary and insisted everything was written on postcards, because, you know, envelopes make it impossible to read what's inside.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "after being worked on by a few civil/secret service types"

    You may recall that Blunkett had a highly publicised affair with an American publisher. I imagine as a result he wants nobody to be able to broadcast embarrassing stuff about politicians, and especially leakers from within Government. I suspect his views were formed by his own extra curricular activities.

    Everything I have ever heard about him makes me more convinced that it would be unsafe for me to be in the same room with him and a rotten tomato. I know it is deeply wrong to take advantage of a blind man, but the temptation would be terrible.

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Although some home secretaries (like Jack Straw) only turn into raving loonies on appointment - as a former resident of the People's Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire I can confirm that Blunkett was a couple of gulags short of a politburo back then.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was the downvote a fan of Blunkett or an enemy of Straw?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    enemy of Straw

    Well, some of us can remember the former President of the NUS. The one thing that put me off socialism as a student (which otherwise seemed an admirable idea) was that the "socialists" in the NUS seemed every bit as ghastly as the right-wingers in the Union or the Monday Club.

    But no, I didn't downvote.

  11. i like crisps

    Re: enemy of Straw

    I joined the NUS, back in the day, not because i was a politcally motivated individual but because if you joined up you could rent the Table Tennis bats for 'half price' in the rec room at break time...i'm still that shallow.

  12. Malmesbury

    Michael Howard now stands out as an example of liberal mindness in Home Secretaries. Does that make you giggle, or weep?

    His description of how, after every incident, a variety of civil servants would crawl out of the woodwork, bearing measures that were variously - insane, fascist or both......

  13. Mad Chaz

    I'd suspect a fan of gulags. I wouldn't want something I like associated with that man even remotely either.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Michael Howard - @Malmesbury

    His one time PPS was our MP and kept us entertained one lunchtime with an account of the civil servants coming up with this stuff, none of which ever had the slightest evidential backing. So I can confirm this post.

    Both he and Howard had the misfortune to be in the party of the loony right wing, which made the loonies more difficult to ignore.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "His description of how, after every incident, a variety of civil servants would crawl out of the woodwork, bearing measures that were variously - insane, fascist or both......"

    Data fetishists at work.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not socialists

    Well, some of us can remember the former President of the NUS. The one thing that put me off socialism as a student (which otherwise seemed an admirable idea) was that the "socialists" in the NUS seemed every bit as ghastly as the right-wingers in the Union or the Monday Club.

    Thanks for putting "socialists" in quotes. Allow me to skip a political rant and summarise it in one sentence: New Labour were IMHO frauds, end to end, whose sole purpose was to line their own pockets as fast as they could manage. Getting re-elected astounded them, but they took it in good stride and stripped whatever they had left. That's why Tony let Gordon in when they were re-elected again: someone had to take the fall, and if they couldn't drop it on the opposition, well, then on Gordon.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ^ This

    This is why I like to read the comments.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Not socialists

    er, AC, how old do you think I am? When I was a student, New Labour was 25 years in the future. And the "socialists" to which I refer belonged to things like the SWP, which consisted of rich kids pretending to be working class and sounding like Stalin on a bad day in 1936.

    "New Labour" was the sort of people who in the 1960s were running the Union; both eyes firmly on the main chance.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A sudden attack of the downvotes

    A number of posts on this thread have suddenly acquired a downvote. I suspect Matt Bryant has entered the room.

  20. JP19

    "should wake up to reality"

    Maybe he should wake up to the reality that these companies are giving customers what they want - and in this case what they want has been highlighted by politicians and governments giving them what they didn't want.

  21. big_D Silver badge

    Re: "should wake up to reality"

    Exactly. If the governments weren't infringing the rights of their citizens, the rights they should be protecting, then the citizens wouldn't be asking for secure data storage and companies wouldn't be responding.

    The governments made their bed and now they don't want to lie in it.

    Don't look over here. Ooh, look at that!

  22. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Re: "should wake up to reality"

    And one of the better tools for anonymity on the internet was TOR, which happened to be created and funded by the US Naval Laboratory and the US Department of State. If anonymity on the internet is some awful thing that only terrorists find useful, why the f*** was it funded by our side? Hmm....

    Talk about clueless!

  23. moiety

    Everybody starting to encrypt everything is just a reaction to the massive, massive overstepping of bounds by the various letter agencies.

    If you get burgled, you have a look at better locks and maybe an alarm system. If you get your private emails plundered, you start looking for solutions there too. If the letter agencies hadn't been taking the piss on an epic scale; they wouldn't be getting the reaction that they are now seeing.

    Blunkett can go fuck himself.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @moiety - what Blunkett can do

    The thought is so horrible that I really hope he insists on his right to be forgotten. Completely, utterly and as soon as possible.

    Even John Major + Edwina Currie seems like a light romantic comedy by comparison.

  25. GeoBolt

    You, Sir, have hit the nail right on the head. Have another upvote.

  26. Spoddyhalfwit

    It's their own fault

    If they'd stuck to reading the emails of terrorists they'd not be facing this problem. But unfortunately when those in power have the capability to read EVERYONE'S mail, they can't resist - foreign companies, protest groups, foreign leaders, you and me.

    So tech companies should encrypt everything, and the spooks can go back to having to get warrants etc - no problem for terrorist suspects, but might be tricky to justify for Angela Merkels phone, or the Brazilian State oil company, or whatever other economic target they have.

  27. Chris Miller

    Blunkett or Lane-Fox

    Which is more clueless about the Internet and computers in general? Which to detest more? Decisions, decisions.

  28. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Blunkett or Lane-Fox

    It's a bit like the Jeffery Archer suing the Daily Mail. You don't know who to cheer for - you just hope it's a long drawn out fight.

  29. ISP

    Re: Blunkett or Lane-Fox

    " you just hope it's a long drawn out fight."

    That does mean you're cheering for the lawyers though...

  30. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Re: Blunkett or Lane-Fox

    Well if you toss certain people that really, really should be got rid off by tossing them into an ocean full of sharks, well wouldn't/shouldn't you really, really cheer for the sharks?

  31. kmac499

    Re: Blunkett or Lane-Fox

    There's always the hope one of the litigants will declare themselves bankrupt on loosing. Then at least one set of lawyers gets stuffed..

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to fear

    IIRC it was David Blunkett as Home Secretary who said that everyone's PCs should be open to random searches by the police. He also said that anyone buying a child an ice cream should be investigated. He even used the immortal words "If you are innocent you have nothing to fear from a police investigation",

    Another politician at the time said "David Blunkett wants everyone in jail who isn't David Blunkett.".

    Most Home Secretaries seem to go totalitarian when they are appointed. The only exception that springs to mind was Roy Jenkins. Unfortunately he set the expectation for us first time voters that the 1970s would herald a golden age of personal liberty. Politicians have been a disappointment ever since.

  33. FlatSpot
    Thumb Up

    Re: Nothing to fear

    The Power of Nightmares...

  34. DryBones


    I, for one, welcome the time when all these politicians, and all these spook agencies, sit back wide-eyed and stunned, and realize, "My God, they're not buying it."

    Lies, truth... They've shown we can't tell the difference, so we're forced to not believe any of it.

  35. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: Breathtaking

    Ah.. that will happen when pigs fly and unicorns once again trod the earth.

  36. Yes Me Silver badge

    Re: Breathtaking

    Read again.

    Then consider why, as far back as 1996, this type of reaction by the letter agencies and the politicos who listen to them was entirely expected. Nothing changes, Orwell was right.

  37. ratfox Silver badge

    Fuck terrorism

    Terrorism causes a number of death and injuries that is insignificant compared to, say, the flu. There are more people killed by lightning strikes than by terrorism. It simply is not worthy of attention.

    And it most definitely does not justify extraordinary rights for the government to peer into our every thoughts.

  38. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Fuck terrorism

    I believe that was part of Blunkett's "burn the witches" campaign to prevent lightning strikes.

  39. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Re: Fuck terrorism

    The number of deaths and injuries is irrelevant. The measures are in place to control you and I, not the terrorists. The sure sign of corrupt Governments is when they bring in ever more unjustifiable laws in the name of preventing XYZ which, as a useful sideline, also help to diminish open protest and dissent, prevent adequate oversight or supervision of the state apparatus, and keep the subjects controlled thereby securing their ruling class status. Ability to protest outside of Parliament in Westminster? Total inability to ever report on a security service operation in Australia even if a tragedy resulted and dozens of innocents were killed? Military equipment and snipers used for crowd control in US? There are some fine examples out there.

  40. jason 7

    Re: Fuck terrorism

    Indeed, it's all about weeding out political dissent in the future. Being able to 'remove' those from society that would incite the 99% to wake up and take back what should be theirs.

    The Western Govts. will do all they can to avoid the revolution that happened in Eastern Europe in the early 90's happening here.

    Their think tanks have run the numbers. They know they are on borrowed time unless they keep tight control over us.

  41. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Re: Fuck terrorism

    Indeed! And so long as the media play to the terrorists by over reporting every little incident, they play right into the hands of the terrorists. The objective is to have the people force the governments into changes that the people will discover they can no longer tolerate, thus forcing social change. Otherwise known as a revolution that they can hopefully subvert and control. Yeah, it's hard on the people that are on the receiving end of a terrorist attack/incident, but damn.... (I've been saying all of this too often and in the same style of late. Sorry.) And here, in Blunket, and the our TLA agencies pushing for new powers and complaining about the people and industry not going along with their agenda which spirals it up further. Bluncket and crew are literally dancing to the tune of the terrorists game plan. Idiots.

  42. JimmyPage Silver badge


    Actually, research by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war showed that if you identify - and isolate - the small number of "leaders", the remaining prisoners are incredibly easy to control - requiring much less [skilled] manpower which can then be sent to the front.

    IIRC it was roundabout 5% or 1 in 20. And they were quite easy to spot ....

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frack fake (state) anti-terorism

    Some states, including the UK, have become so Fascist or State Communist that they now effectively regard anyone who wants privacy, or even peacefully opposes them, as terrorists; this is corruption, so not OK!

    Blunkett is one of the turds who supports oppression (including this attitude) and conquest which ironically gives rise to real terrorists!

  44. i like crisps


    I think its only right and proper that in a 21st Century Britain a disabled person, like Mr Blunket should have the right to be able to be a Total Fucking Cunt like any 'able bodied' person can.

    It's not the dark ages anymore is it?

  45. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Brain's mush, doc?

    [W]e should not capitulate to the big communications giants: they cannot be allowed to get away with the absurd idea that they hold no responsibility for what is transmitted on the platforms they provide.

    Politicians should also not be allowed to get away with the absurd idea that they can randomly string words together that pop up in their diseased control-obsessed minds and hope to get away with it. It's basically incitement to (fasc|commun)ism of the standard sort, so probably hate speech.

    Time for the Fletcher Memorial Home, Blunky. It's not going to hurt one bit.

    And "terrorists spread genocide?". I would think if they spread genocide, they are no longer terrorists, they are on the level of state actors.

  46. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Re: Brain's mush, doc?

    Oh, did I mention that there is a NATO member actively helping ISIS?

    ‘ISIS Sees Turkey as Its Ally': Former Islamic State Member Reveals Turkish Army Cooperation

    Yep, better watch the little suburbanites with their crypto.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Brain's mush, doc?

    IIRC Turkey has denied it committed genocide in Armenia. They have certainly tried hard enough to destroy the language and culture of their Kurdish minority. Now they seem content to let ISIL destroy the Kurds - as long as they don't cross into Turkey.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Brain's mush, doc?

    Well, if they committed genocide, where are all the Armenians jumping up and down complaining about it?

    Personally, I'd give nuclear arms and some serious air capability to the Kurds. They seem about as sensible (if not more so) than the Israelis, their attitude to women is perhaps the most enlightened in the region, and they have some really good cake shops in North London. A Kurdish Middle East would be a lot better than it is at present.

  49. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    jumping the shark much?


  50. Mahou Saru

    All this anti encryption posturing is nonsense unless...

    they are trying to summon a chaos god who embodies fear and uncertainty.

    Encryption has been around for as long as there has been secrets. Any evil master mind would cover their tracks no matter if their devices are encrypted by default or not. Of course they would divulge their secret plan to the hero at the end.


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