back to article Zimmermann slams Cameron’s ‘absurd’ plans for crypto ban

Crypto pioneer Phil Zimmermann has labelled UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s anti-encryption plans as "absurd". Zimmermann, creator of the PGP email privacy package, countered Cameron's argument that encryption is creating a means for terrorists and child abusers to communicate in private, arguing instead that intelligence …

Page:

  1. soldinio
    Big Brother

    Noting to fear, nothing to hide right?

    I fear criminals, so I hide my bank details.

    I fear burglars so I hide my travel plans.

    I fear pedophiles so encrypt family photos.

    I fear political corruption so I hide my voting intentions

    I fear embarrassment and ridicule so I hide private conversations with my wife.

    So tell me Dave, Theresa and all your vote grabbing short sighted dangerously ignorant clique - what do you fear and how do you hide?

    Wankers

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      @soldinio I can't imagine the plonker that downvoted you, so I gave you an upvote.

      The problem with dave and co is a total lack of real knowledge, exacerbated by a total lack of imagination.

      I can't stand the other lot but I do not think dave's crowd should get any more time to screw things any more than they already have.

      I guess everyone is going to have to go back to using cash and doing business face to face, that should really get the economy on a sound footing and all this from a party that is traditionally known for understanding and supporting business.

      Calling them wankers doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of their ineptitude.

      1. g e

        Those two downvotes

        Are Dave and Theresa

      2. g e

        "Calling them wankers doesn't even begin to scratch the surface"

        No.

        That is why I now use 'Cameron' as the C word.

        e.g. "Jesus, that guy last night in the bar. What an utter fucking Cameron"

        Would be interesting to see it gain far wider use before the elections...

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Nothing to hide if you have done nothing wrong ?

      Having a crap is not illegal, so why do toilets have doors ?

      1. NumptyScrub

        Re: Nothing to hide if you have done nothing wrong ?

        Having a crap is not illegal, so why do toilets have doors ?

        Shitting in public is illegal (public indecency laws), so we are basically being asked to install toilet doors that are opaque to the public but transparent to GCHQ (and transparent to anyone who knows how GCHQ make them transparent). Next we'll have to make walls out of the same stuff, and wear clothes made out of that stuff. GCHQ demands the ability to see all things at all times lest one terrorist be overlooked.

        Then they decide to overlook suspected terrorists that they already know about, because they've not done anything for a few months, et voila! Charlie Hebdo

        Asking for the ability to watch more people, because some people you chose to stop watching killed people, is pretty fucking disingenuous.

      2. Andrew Meredith

        Re: Nothing to hide if you have done nothing wrong ?

        >>Having a crap is not illegal, so why do toilets have doors ?<<

        Pithy but spot on (have an upvote)

        I have usually answered direct questions as to whether I have something to hide with a straight answer; yes, my privacy, don't you?

        Kind of the same as yours but not as funny :-)

      3. DrBobMatthews

        Re: Nothing to hide if you have done nothing wrong ?

        Considering Cameron's performance to date and the fact that he is a born liar, I would think that he has plenty to hide and be only to relieved to use encryption to cover his sorry ass.

    3. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      > So tell me Dave,

      I think this is a question of ignorance on their part. They don't understand that it is not possible to have a secure conversation with your bank while not being able to have a secure conversation with other people. They don't understand that having a back door that GCHQ can open means that every other government around the world and half the criminal gangs too can also open at will.

      The whole political class just doesn't seem to have the faintest clue about how technology works and they seem to be determined to listen to "advisers" who will tell them what they want to hear. This week it might be Dave, in a few weeks it might be Ed or Nigel or Nick, they all seem to act in the same way once they get a whiff of power.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Will Ed be the same?

      I think so,

      I don't think Nick will, but Nigel - no idea

      1. DrBobMatthews

        Re: Will Ed be the same?

        Nigel is worse than Cameron he would welcome more control. Nigel is from the same mould, a shifty, deceitful, lying opportunist who' only interest is Nigel.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Noting to fear, nothing to hide right?"

      Actually, I think that the generally recognised phrase is "nothing to hide, nothing to fear". Puts a different emphasis on things, doesn't it.

      "I fear criminals, so I hide my bank details.

      I fear burglars so I hide my travel plans.

      I fear pedophiles so encrypt family photos.

      I fear political corruption so I hide my voting intentions

      I fear embarrassment and ridicule so I hide private conversations with my wife."

      Alright, but personally speaking I'd like all the terrorists, criminals, burglars, paedophiles, politically corrupt and nosy parkers rounded up and slung into jail for a long time before their repugnant activities impinge on my own life. I'd fear them all a whole lot less knowing that they're all getting a right rigorous buggering every day behind bars courtesy of the nastiest slags going. Ok, so maybe that's a bit excessive in the case of the nosy parkers.

      Your use of encryption does nothing to stop a criminal robbing your bank or stealing your credit cards, or stop a burglar breaking into your house and beating you up because you happen to be there, or stop a paedophile preying on your children when they walk to school, or stop politicians being corrupt, or stop a terrorist blowing you up on an underground train. Their use of encryption makes it easier for them to get away with it. What does stop those things happening is law enforcement.

      So will this approach by the UK government help law enforcement? Who knows. Probably not much, and probably not enough.

      A population and its government must use every means possible to keep pushing back against those who would exploit, kill and abuse them. What is guaranteed is that if we stop doing that, or we completely prevent our law enforcement agencies doing it for us, then the criminals, burglars, terrorists, paedophiles and corrupt will pay heed. They will be rubbing their hands with glee. And they will, quicker than you can blink, be giving you real reason to be afraid.

      So give the politicians a break. You're worrying about comparatively minor intrusions into your use of technology. They're worrying about preventing people like you being killed, maimed, abused or exploited by some properly nasty baddies who really couldn't give a flying fuck for your privacy. And it's clearly getting harder for governments to do that job. No thanks to those companies that make heaps of money providing internet services and pushing profitable adverts to baddies and goodies alike. It'd be nice if they lent us all a hand.

      There is of course far more to law enforcement than trawling through internet traffic (though the prior warning potentially gained could presumably be life saving). But do you honestly think that a democratically elected politician with less than four months before an election would risk vote-losing adverse publicity unless they thought that the alternative was worse? Now that might be something to really worry about.

      1. Schultz

        @AC above

        "A population and its government must use every means possible to keep pushing back against those who would exploit, kill and abuse them." (AC here)

        Seriously?

        As in "Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem." (Stalin)?

        Or as in "The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it." (Hitler)?

        Always doubt those who peddle moral absolutes, final solutions, or total commitment. You are allowed to quote me on that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC above

          @Schultz,

          "As in "Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem." (Stalin)?

          Or as in "The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it." (Hitler)?"

          Hmmm, quotes that seem highly applicable to the USA today. The USA seems to like to execute people, and likes to impose its will on everybody else in the world. OK so its not all bad like the Third Reich and the USSR were, but a (presumed) American really should think very carefully about how others perceive the USA and its woeful law and order deficit before spouting off quotes like that.

      2. JS001

        If encryption is broken by the government, we'll all have more to fear from run-of-the-mill criminals than the paedo-terrorists.

      3. NumptyScrub

        Actually, I think that the generally recognised phrase is "nothing to hide, nothing to fear". Puts a different emphasis on things, doesn't it.

        They took away my wealth, so I need not fear theft

        They took away my children, so I need not fear paedophiles

        They took away my vote, so I need not fear political corruption

        They have taken everything from me, so I have nothing left to fear

        Yep, definitely puts a different emphasis on things :)

        A population and its government must use every means possible to keep pushing back against those who would exploit, kill and abuse them. What is guaranteed is that if we stop doing that, or we completely prevent our law enforcement agencies doing it for us, then the criminals, burglars, terrorists, paedophiles and corrupt will pay heed. They will be rubbing their hands with glee. And they will, quicker than you can blink, be giving you real reason to be afraid.

        "Stopping" pushing back against those who would do us harm, would require us to remove existing powers from law enforcement, not failing to give them more powers. They already have the ability to get a warrant to target surveillance, and to detain suspects. 50 years ago that was considered perfectly adequate, and targeted surveillance is still available and still capable of providing useful information, including the ability to catch all communications data over cellular or fixed telephony and internet connectivity, for a known suspect, and to install and operate means of overhearing communications. All the encrypted VoIP or chat apps in the world are unable to stop someone from using a microphone to record you talking, or a camera to record you typing on a keyboard.

        So the issue would appear to be all that fuss about getting the warrant in the first place? It would definitely be a lot easier for law enforcement if everyone was always under surveillance. You could easily identify political dissidents paedophiles if you have 24/7 recordings of everything they ever do, and then disappear them lock them up for good. The problem I have is that a 24/7 surveillance state is, pretty much by definition, a totalitarian state.

        So give the politicians a break. You're worrying about comparatively minor intrusions into your use of technology.

        I'm worrying about the ongoing erosion of privacy in the name of "safety", when the demons I am being "protected" from are less dangerous than driving my car; cars hurt and kill more people each year in any country than terrorists and paedophiles put together.

        They're worrying about preventing people like you being killed, maimed, abused or exploited by some properly nasty baddies who really couldn't give a flying fuck for your privacy.

        They apparently aren't worrying about me being killed or maimed by cars though, even though it is orders of magnitude more likely. They apparently aren't worrying about me being abused or exploited by corporate entities that want my personal data for marketing purposes, and are willing to lie, cheat and steal to get that data.

        And it's clearly getting harder for governments to do that job. No thanks to those companies that make heaps of money providing internet services and pushing profitable adverts to baddies and goodies alike. It'd be nice if they lent us all a hand.

        You mean those companies that provide a huge amount of political funding in order to ensure that laws favour their side? Here's a good one; my government already takes my medical data (gathered by the NHS) and hands it over to "selected" 3rd parties that provide a product or service that may be relevant to my medical history, as part of the Care.Data initiative. I have to specifically opt out if I do not want that to happen. I am told that opting out might mean I miss vital, life-saving offers.

        "Be advertised at or you might die from something preventable". How fucking awesome is that?

        There is of course far more to law enforcement than trawling through internet traffic (though the prior warning potentially gained could presumably be life saving). But do you honestly think that a democratically elected politician with less than four months before an election would risk vote-losing adverse publicity unless they thought that the alternative was worse? Now that might be something to really worry about.

        If you honestly think Cameroon's outburst is anything other than an ill judged, badly misunderstood appeal to fearmongering then I think you may be mistaken. He hasn't got a clue what the actual outcome of "banning cryptography" would be otherwise he would have kept his fool mouth shut, this is a knee jerk "because terrorist!" response hoping to get scared citizens to vote for him out of fear.

        Did you know, a recent study shows 100% of terrorists use transport to get to the place where they subsequently kill innocent people? I am also reliably informed that transport is responsible for some deaths every year just on its own! I reckon, if we really want to deal a terrifying blow to terrorists and save the lives of innocent people, then we should ban transport as soon as possible. It will quite literally save thousands of lives every year.

        The recent focus on terrorism is because it makes them (the government) look bad, not because it saves lives, otherwise we'd be spending all that legislatory time making the roads safer by eroding driver privacy forcing drivers to be under surveillance at all times while driving. All right-thinking citizens obviously support drivers being under surveillance at all times (while driving) because only criminals break road traffic regulations. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, right? :)

      4. RobHib
        Big Brother

        @A.C. -- Your'e from the Government then?

        1. Why are you an A.C.? Ironic isn't it, you're actually hiding something! (Remember, that's what encryption does.)

        2. People who espouse views in the way you've expressed them usually wish their names be attached.

        3. What you've written is almost a boilerplate press release from the police or government.

        4. Thus, it's difficult then to conclude you're NOT from the establishment.

        5. In the circumstances that would also explain why you're an A.C.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Point

    The point is, and you'll not like this, is that a society based on "secrets" is a broken society. Who cares who you get up to things with? As long as you don't harm anyone else, you've nothing to fear. Oh, you're scared of ridicule? You'll grow up at some stage I'm sure and be more confident in your actions and your choices. Right now the whole thing is built on secrecy, even posting anonymously ;) As if it's really anonymous anyway :D From our industrial secrets to our back room deals.

    A system that is as broken as this one, and one that means you need to fight to earn to eat, and that's fight every other human, needs these layers of protection. However, it doesn't have to be this way. And that's where evolution comes in.

    I'm, personally, happy that the NSA did all that data slurping, so now we have the basis of a computer system that can track resources in real time and when we come to manage those resources, instead of fight over "profit", we'll have a big chunk of the work already done. Don't worry. I'll down vote this post myself to save your ire and mouse finger :D

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Who are you A/C ?

      A member of the British army 77th Brigade brigade ?

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31070114

      1. Looper
        Flame

        Re: Who are you A/C ?

        He is a total fucking berk.

        OR.

        A monkeybrained troll.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Point

      OK A/C. Pony up. No secrets.

      Post here your bank account details, password, security answers etc. And your eBay, Amazon etc logins & passwords.

      What's that?

      You've just discovered that not only do you have something to hide, you're contractually obliged to hide it?

    3. RyokuMas Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: The Point

      "Oh, you're scared of ridicule? You'll grow up at some stage I'm sure and be more confident in your actions and your choices."

      ... in which case, A/C, why are you hiding behind an anonymous account?

      Hypocrite.

    4. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: The Point

      I disagree that use of secrecy indicates a broken society. Functioning societies require a means of enforcing cultural norms whether through shame, guilt or fear and secrecy is just another mechanism for increasing the granularity with which norms are enforced and exceptions are granted (or taken). Utopian dreams that there is an achievable 'perfect' society where we can dispense with checks balances and other inconsistent fudges are just that, dreams. Reality always comes back to balancing competing priorities a and absolute secrecy or openness will remain in the realms of thought experiments

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Point

      "The point is, and you'll not like this, is that a society based on "secrets" is a broken society"

      Feel free to post the following

      Credit card Number:

      Expiry date

      Start date (if applicable)

      CCV code

      User names and passwords to all ecommerce sites and email accounts.

      Mother Maiden name

      Name of 1st School

      Name of 1st pet

      Name of road you grew up n

      Nothing to hide and all that.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Point

        "Feel free to post the following"

        Shouldn't have to. We should be able to sniff it out anyway. Just like back in the days of villages with open doors and windows, nosy neighbours and gossip chains. What happened back then when everyone knew each other with at least some degree of detail?

    6. JS001

      Re: The Point

      "Who cares who you get up to things with?"

      Er... aside from criminals, much of the rest of society!

      "Oh, you're scared of ridicule? "

      Or social tyranny. Or being imprisoned for things that shouldn't in a free society be crimes.

    7. Rob Crawford

      Re: The Point

      Ok then please insist on your correspondence taking place on postcards, replacement bank cards can be in an envelope, but your new PIN must be printed on the outside of the envelope.

      Have glass walls in your house.

      Or better still just be quiet and sit at the back

    8. NumptyScrub

      Re: The Point

      The point is, and you'll not like this, is that a society based on "secrets" is a broken society. Who cares who you get up to things with? As long as you don't harm anyone else, you've nothing to fear. Oh, you're scared of ridicule? You'll grow up at some stage I'm sure and be more confident in your actions and your choices.

      I have literally no problem with an open society where everything is publically available. I just demand that the government go first to prove their intent :)

      Protip: they will never go first.

    9. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: The Point

      "The point is, and you'll not like this..."

      Hi, Dave.

      *waves*

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Point

      So good Sir... If secrets are what's wrong with this society - would you mind posting your personal details, name/address, bank account details, bank login credentials, your employment information, your email account(s) login details, pictures of you/your family; in fact, set an example to us bad secretive people by sharing your details with random strangers on the internet.

      Of course you won't - you're not that stupid... And campaigning to remove encryption is stupid - if you allow one person (GCHQ etc) to bypass encryption, anyone can - and not everyone in the world is as honest as you.

    11. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: The Point

      The government sees a need for official secrets, which it won't disclose to the public until 50 or more years after the fact (or not at all in some cases). If it's ok for them to have secrets why can't we have them?

      1. kraut

        Re: The Point

        Indeed, and why are TTIP negotiations conducted in secret by our civil servants? How can FOI requests be denied to tax payers on grounds of "commercial confidentiality"?

    12. soldinio

      Re: The Point

      An eloquent response deserving of retort.

      Firstly " Oh, you're scared of ridicule? You'll grow up at some stage I'm sure and be more confident in your actions and your choices" I have stood by my actions even in the face of arrest, loosing jobs and partners over the years, but consider this example. When I was younger I worked for an escort agency, it simply meant I went to a few nice restaurants and business functions where the client deemed it worth the cost to have someone young and intelligent on their arm instead of fending off asshats all night because they turned up single. I did not sleep with any of them. Because of the common missconception, my wife occasionally calls me her gigolo to tease me. My current job is as a respected officer for a local government authority. If they read the nickname in text messages (and this is a genuine risk as I have a .gcsx email address) , the mere suggestion of accepting money for sex would result in enormous professional embarrassment and ridicule. Wishing to avoid this is not a sign of immaturity.

      Moving on, I keep it secret from my kids that Santa doesn't exist. I keep it secret from my wife what I have bought her for valentines day. This is not a symptom of "broken society". Financial inequality is symptom. The fact that you are on this forum suggests you are in the top 5% of richest in the world. Give me all your personal and bank details and encourage your friends to do the same, I will take half of one pay check of everyone and drive to africa/suburban china/north korea/you name the deprived area and take supplies and money to redistribute that wealth to help "fix society" - still have the courage of your convictions? And that's before I start on the fact that you posted as anonymous coward (although as you suggest, is it really anonymous - should I just address you as coward?)

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: The Point

        Gruesome physical elimination using ISIS-approved implements is just about right for the anti-privacy brigade and similar muppets.

        Paranoia Is Good for You

        Privacy is the single most effective means of preserving freedom against an encroaching state. Privacy rests on the assumption that — in the absence of specific evidence of wrongdoing — an individual has a right to shut his front door and tell other people (including the government) to mind their own damned business. This is a presumption of innocence. It is also the bedrock of civil society.

        The act of slamming your front door expresses the key distinction between the private and public spheres. The private sphere consists of the areas of life in which an individual exercises authority and into which the government or other uninvited parties cannot properly intrude; traditionally, the home or family is offered as a prime example of the private sphere. Thus, historically, privacy has stood as a bulwark between the individual and government, between freedom and social control.

        Totalitarianism requires total information, and today's government is intent on achieving the complete identification of everyone, like taking an inventory of belongings to be taxed and controlled: national ID, biometrics, "your papers please!"

        Those who resist being inventoried present a problem for the state. The first line of attack is to accuse them of being "suspicious" — that is, of having criminal or shameful reasons for refusing to answer questions.

        "If you have nothing to hide …" the remark begins; and it always ends with a demand for compliance. Invoking privacy has gone from being the exercise of a right to an indication of guilt.

        This is a sleight of hand by which privacy is redefined as "concealment" or "secrecy"; of course, it is neither. As well as enabling freedom, privacy is part of a healthy, self-reflecting life.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: The Point

          You beat me to it D.A.M. privacy is not necessarily the same as keeping secrets, although maintaining privacy of your financial details is a matter of keeping them secret.

          Why should anyone other than some of the more moronic social networkers want to share every detail of their lives with all and sundry?

          And why should it be of any interest to anyone else?

          Particularly the government of a nation whose law states that you are innocent until proven guilty and that guilt should only need to be proven AFTER there is some evidence to indicate that you may be guilty of something.

          As it is, things are heading in the direction of everyone having such a large body of data relating to their every detail that in the event of the government not liking them for any reason at all, they would have a greater chance of stitching little bits and pieces together in a way that could cast doubt on innocence even when there is no guilt.

          Thatcher began eroding civil liberties by stomping on the unions and taking it further than necessary, Blair used terrorism to erode a lot more and now dim dave is just trying to do it because he can, Oh! or now him and Obarmy are going for the Ruskies perhaps it's back to us all being potential reds under the bed in the new cold war.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: The Point

            As it is, things are heading in the direction of everyone having such a large body of data relating to their every detail that in the event of the government not liking them for any reason at all, they would have a greater chance of stitching little bits and pieces together in a way that could cast doubt on innocence even when there is no guilt.

            But of course. You might not be guilty today, but what about tomorrow. Or with the next gov't or the next kneejerk reaction to something.

    13. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: The Point

      "a society based on "secrets" is a broken society"

      They don't want s society without secrets. They still get to keep secrets, with harsh penalties if you expose any of them. It's only you and me who don't get to keep any secrets.

      You don't even get to know who They are, it may include corporations.

      You get to play poker but have to keep all your cards face up.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    ... if David Cameron and friends will be the first to stop using encryption for their own business? And will it extend to affairs of state too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder...

      As others along the way here have pointed out, it is very likely that Cameron and his buddies don't actually understand the role encryption plays in common business transactions like banking. For a couple of decades at least these guys have worn their ignorance as a badge of honor, believing (probably correctly) that it endeared them to their own equally ignorant supporters. So yes, Cameron and his ilk are probably going to make a show of not using encryption if they succeed in outlawing its use by the rest of us. They don't see the down side the way that a blind man can't see an open elevator shaft. But maybe that's a good thing. After a period of chaos and catastrophic theft of critical financial data Cameron at least would be discredited for all time. Of course that's a high price for the rest of us to pay just because most of our political representatives lack the brains of a skink.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: I wonder...

        But there should have been a few Sir Humphreys behind the scenes telling the Cameron that it's an extremely courageous policy decision before he got to the stage of announcing it. Or perhaps everybody's lobotomised?

        1. kraut

          Re: I wonder...

          It's the Sir Humphreys in the Home Office that have been pushing for total surveillance state for the last two decades. Why else would every Home Secretary start spouting the same line once they get into office?

          All for dissing Cameron and co, but let's not forget that Labour effectively banned encryption (well, made not handing over your keys punishable by a prison sentence... so baned encryption from the government) with #RIPA, which, they assures us, would stop money laundering, child pornography and terrorism. So be grateful to our political classes that we don't have to worry about those three evils anymore. Particularly not terrorism, since that was all sorted out by Tony!

      2. Lyndon Hills 1

        Re: I wonder...maybe he should have asked one of his own supporters?

        remember jeremy clarkson sounding off about the dangers of hackers?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What exactly is the government's thinking for this?

    Do they really expect terrorists or child molesters or possessors of abuse photos and videos to go "Better not use encryption. I'll be breaking the law."

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Big Brother

      No

      but it means that the media trope of anyone using encryption is complete.

      FWIW I suspect this is the governments real agenda. They know there's no practical way of banning encryption. However, if they demonise it enough, then it's another tool in their armoury of policing by prejudice, rather than policing by statute. Mention "encryption" when they arrest a "bad" guy, and he's as good as guilty.

    2. NumptyScrub

      What exactly is the government's thinking for this?

      Do they really expect terrorists or child molesters or possessors of abuse photos and videos to go "Better not use encryption. I'll be breaking the law."

      Of course not. The thinking is this: encryption = guilty*

      See encryption anywhere, and the person or people involved can be automatically sentenced to the maximum term for being a serial child molesting terrorist, without needing to spend any time investigating or creating a case. Obviously any encrypted data should be treated as if it contains the worst possible content and sentenced as such

      *unless it's government, because they need encryption to do their job and thus it is a legitimate business tool and not criminal at all. Only other people who use encryption are all guaranteed criminals of the very worst sort, honest.

      1. Lysenko

        "Of course not. The thinking is this: encryption = guilty*"

        One word: Steganography. If they outlaw encryption then all that will happen is even more bandwidth will be burned on cute cat photos encoded so that it is mathematically impossible to establish whether there are embedded bomb plans or the sender is simply a feline obsessive.

        My guess is that the clued up bad guys are doing this already and only the terrorist equivalent of script kiddies rely on plain, obvious crypto for sensitive stuff. The really scary thing here isn't that Asshat politicos spout this rubbish, it is that people who ought to know better like GCHQ and the FBI seem to support these asinine suggestions.

        1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          re: Steganography

          The already have a database of reference images that can be used in the detection of steganography in cases where existing imagery already exists on the 'net. New material, or material in new format after conversion, is going to give them pause.

          1. JimmyPage Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: re: Steganography

            But properly done steganography is impossible to detect in a fresh image. As long as no "before" image is kept anywhere, the spooks can have from now to eternity to try to decrypt them.

            Besides steganography may not necessarily involve fiddling with the binary data in a file. Information in a picture may actually be contained in the subject of the picture.

            Post a picture of "me and the posse" and you're signalling "go ahead with operation Pablo".

            Post a picture of "me and Aunt Mabel and Uncle Terence" and you're signalling "Operation abort. Agent compromised".

            Ever seen "Mississippi Burning" ? There's a scene where one FBI agent shows how Ku Klux Klan members were able to signal in photos their allegiance. You'd only know it was there if you were told.

      2. kraut

        Do not even people on the reg remember that the last government made it illegal, on pain of a prison sentence, to NOT hand over your keys to the government on bugger all oversight? Hello? RIPA? Do we all have the attention span of goldfish now?

        1. JimmyPage Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          @kraut

          the thing is, getting encryption keys via RIPA is a drag. And annoyingly can involve one of those idiot judges who actually insists on doing things legally. It also generates unhelpful press coverage.

          Banning encryption would bypass RIPA for people who obey the law, and give "probable cause" for those that don't. Particularly if their skin is off white.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019