back to article Wah, encryption makes policing hard, cries UK's National Crime Agency

Encryption is making it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect dangerous offenders, according the the National Crime Agency's (NCA) yearly assessment of serious organised crime in Britain. "Since 2010, communication service providers have migrated to encrypted services 'by default', a process that accelerated …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear NCA (becuase I know you're reading this),

    Encryption is mathematics.

    You cannot effectively regulate mathematics, thus you cannot effectively regulate encryption.

    Yours

    People who know common sense when they see it

    P.S. How about trying good old detective work instead of lazy data-slurp grepping.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      P.S. How about trying good old detective work instead of lazy data-slurp grepping.

      They couldn't do that because all most of them only know how to look at a computer monitor. They appear to spend most of their time reading facebook and getting upset if someone makes what they consider a racial statement rather than getting out and asking questions - we can't go out on the street we have a liberal arts degree.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "we can't go out on the street we have a liberal arts degree."

        Or .... we can't go out on the street because our risk assessment revealed there might be bad guys out there, its a elf' and safety risk guvnor.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          ...or...

          ...the officers can't go out on the street, because despite the fact that they are willing to work long unsocial hours (typically five 8-hour shifts a week covering nights and weekends) for less pay than you probably get (starting salary around £23k if they're lucky, rising to around £38k at the top of the scale), the funds aren't currently available, so they are one of the tens of thousands who have had their jobs cut.

          IMHO, most police officers are very much 'type A' personalities, who have no desire to sit in front of a screen or avoid potentially dangerous situations. They do a job I certainly wouldn't want to, not least because it is a difficult and dangerous role that is continually undermined by the press and ignorant keyboard warriors like some other posters here...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ...or...

            > ignorant keyboard warriors like some other posters here...

            I don't think anyone here is ignorantly bashing Bobby (or Bobbette) on the beat.

            The bashing, if there is any to be had, is against the keyboard warriors at the "security services" who have their master's ear in their demands for "more data, ban encryption" despite (a) encryption = mathematics, and (b) their proven inability to stop people already known to them doing bad things.

            If the government would spend less money on their keyboard warriors (and associated over-priced, over-running IT contracts) and more money on those on the front-line, then perhaps we'd be in a different place.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: ...or...

              I don't think anyone here is ignorantly bashing Bobby (or Bobbette) on the beat.

              Sadly, I have to disagree. I think people easily conflate 'policing' with 'police officers'. In this instance, beat officers have very little to do with the mass eavesdropping from our security services, but people will blame them.

              As you rightly point out, this isn't about run-of-the-mill regular policing (which politicians seem to care very little about), but about the mass surveillance and social control so beloved of our increasingly authoritarian politicians. Those within the police who actually have any involvement in this will either be the career managers who have little to do with any actual policing, and the PCCs, who have elected political posts.

              Sure, it might be handy for policing to be able to pull information on everyone up at will, and it would make crimes a hell of a lot easier to solve, but I don't believe most police genuinely want everyone to live in that sort of dystopia. After all, we live in a society which is policed by consent, and any move towards this sort of thing for the rank-and-file bobby would make their job harder, not easier, from the public outcry.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: ...or...

                > think people easily conflate 'policing' with 'police officers'.

                Erm....

                No confusion on my part.

                I was replying to someone who quite clearly typed the words "most police officers are".

                I was merely saying I did not, and (I would guess) other people the OP attributed as "keyboard warriors here" were unlikely to have an issue with said "police officers".

              2. Mark 85 Silver badge

                Re: ...or...

                As you rightly point out, this isn't about run-of-the-mill regular policing (which politicians seem to care very little about), but about the mass surveillance and social control so beloved of our increasingly authoritarian politicians.

                I speak from the States which is having similar issues in this race to the bottom. Your post says a lot about government in general. Civil rights and liberties are at risk by this so which is more important? Catching a few crims or citizens rights? Here in the States, one of the founders (if I remember right but it may have been a Supreme Court judge) said: "It's better for 10 guilty persons to go free than for one innocent to be convicted." All surveillance does is put the population at risk and also "under control".

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: ...or...

                  Here in the States, one of the founders (if I remember right but it may have been a Supreme Court judge) said: "It's better for 10 guilty persons to go free than for one innocent to be convicted."

                  It was Benjamin Franklin who is often quoted (slightly out of context):

                  "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: ...or...

                "As you rightly point out, this isn't about run-of-the-mill regular policing (which politicians seem to care very little about), [...]"

                It is the media-driven politicians who keep setting priorities for regular policing - which leads to officers knowing their careers depend on meeting accompanying targets.

                A few years ago an acquaintance was a (voluntary) special constable - as the local force had severe limits on recruitment numbers. He even received a commendation n one case when he possibly saved someone's life by quick action.

                When the police force was recruiting again he applied. In his final interview with a senior officer he was failed - on the grounds that he wasn't "aggressive" enough.

                A few years later he was accepted. However it became noticeable that he closed ranks with the institutional, even admiring, attitude that misbehaving officers were just "hard men".

                He said of an anonymous man for whom they were unable to find any evidence to charge "we'll get him next time". Now a guilty man might have been lucky in that instance - but it illustrates why the public are getting chary of any contact with the police who apparently see everyone as a criminal.

                The acquaintance is now retired from the police - and misses its sense of group identity.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: “We’ll get him next time”

                  Those of us who work in any way related to computer security, perhaps most especially web developers, will be aware of the gradual feeling that it really does seem that everyone genuinely is out to get/hack you. When the police, by the very nature of their job, unfortunately have to interact very frequently with people who quite often are the veritable “scum of the earth”, I can similarly see how the groupthink would sadly perhaps inevitably turn towards having a rather jaundiced view of many of their fellow humans. It’s certainly not a job that I would envy, having to deal with quite often horrific and violent crimes, and I’m sure it must exert a very genuine psychological toll.

                  However, I would genuinely hope that the police service also moves with the times and not only tries to take good care of officers’ wellbeing but also takes active measures to try to ensure that what I’m sure is understandable cynicism doesn’t then develop into undesirable and unjustified groupthink or prejudice.

                  Having said that, there are such people as habitual criminals and I am sure that there are some people about whom, based on previous evidence, the police have very good grounds for suspicion, but insufficient evidence to pin a particular crime on them on that occasion. As long as they do go solely on the evidence, and perhaps keep a careful watch on known suspects, but definitely do not go so far as to “fit them up”, that’s perhaps not always necessarily a bad thing.

      2. Smooth Newt
        Meh

        Data-slurp grepping

        P.S. How about trying good old detective work instead of lazy data-slurp grepping.

        Remember who it was that broke this - encryption became the default when the public found out about huge and outrageous abuses done by the same sort of people who are now whinging about it.

    2. theblackhand

      Ridiculous!

      It's not just mathematics they should be ban - it's all the things criminals rely on:

      - oxygen

      - food

      - the Earth

      - the Sun

      There's probably more, but once we get rid of the last two, I confidently predict that the number of criminals using encryption will drop significantly and we can even leave you with your precious mathematics!

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous!

        To add to the ban list to stop criminals using them we need to include:

        Cars

        Bicycles

        Clothes

        Banks

        Money

        Water

        Paper

        Pens

        Pencils

        Crayons (very important)

        The use of ancient Latin (in case they try to communicate in that).

        Life

        Existence

        The Register

        1. Bitsminer
          Joke

          Re: Ridiculous!

          I see that you included

          Banks

          On your ban list.

          But TSB....never mind...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "... Banks On your ban list."

            The NCA report did point at those (including banks) facilitating the apparently untraceable flow of huge quantities of hot money through the London realestate market. It's not encryption that facilitates that flow of money, it's (well, you work it out).

            Right at the end of the article: "the NCA warned the UK remained a prime destination for money laundering. "Investment in UK property, particularly in London, continues to be an attractive mechanism to launder funds,"

            So, no need for *mass* surveillance, just keep a close eye on the top end of the London property market. How hard can it be, with or without encryption? Getting sufficient evidence to support enough convictions might be trickier, in the circumstances.

            For the many $, not the few.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Ridiculous!

          The use of ancient Latin (in case they try to communicate in that).

          I'm all in favour of this if it means that Boris gets locked up. One ambitious mendacious egotist in a position of power can do far more damage than a thousand run-of-the-mill criminals. Just look at all the public money lost on that stupid Garden Bridge idea, or the extra danger he put Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous!

        Cue intro to 'Judge Death' storyline...

    3. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

      "You cannot effectively regulate mathematics"

      Nonsense. Just ask the Australian government.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        "You cannot effectively regulate mathematics"

        Nonsense. Just ask the Australian government.

        And one of the states here in the US that legislated that pi=3. I believe they were ridiculed into repealing it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      "P.S. How about trying good old detective work instead of lazy data-slurp grepping."

      ^^^ So much this.

      See, my biggest gripe with articles like these and which sometimes make me want to fume (I don't) is the display of hypocrisy involved. Now, I don't deny that encryption can make things harder on them. I think that's plain out true.

      But is it really as much of a problem as they claim?

      See... remember that London suicide bomber incident? Several people around the nutjub, including people from the Mosque he visited had already warned law enforcement that something wasn't right. And what did the police do? Put him on a list and... that was just about it. I don't know about you but if members of a Mosque start sending out warnings then all my alarmbells would go off.

      So encryption could make police work harder? What kind of police work are we exactly talking about would be my counter question, especially with the above in mind...

      1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        Re: @AC

        So encryption could make police work harder?

        Police work is hard. Unless you live in a police state.

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Anyone know exactly why are they complaining? Thanks to IPA they have a list of servers someone connects to over the past year and they can make a query to the owner of the server and get all the data at rest and they don't need a warrant to do it. They've got it all on a plate.

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Wut?

    "Encryption is making it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect dangerous offenders".

    Yes. And so do many other things. Foremost being the refusal of serious offenders to go and turn themselves in straight after the offence. Most unreasonable.

    And how does encryption reduce detection of people glassing someone outside the pub on a Friday night, or of domestic violence? Surely those are a large proportion of the 'serious' crimes? trrrrrrsts are pretty rare.

    But at the same time Encryption is reducing crime, by making it harder to commit online fraud.

    Swings and roundabouts.

    1. Pier Reviewer

      Re: Wut?

      “And how does encryption reduce detection of people glassing someone outside the pub on a Friday night, or of domestic violence?“

      Nice straw man. At least I assume it is. Alternatively you may need to review the types of crimes the NCA deal with...

      You are of course correct that encryption has benefits to society, along with causing detriment to it. It’s a balancing act.

      What I find odd (actually I don’t) is that the firearms issue in the US is met on here with mostly a “more regulation!” argument. I agree with that argument wholeheartedly. Crypto on the other hand tends to bring out the “you can pry my AES256 keys from my cold dead hands”.

      Both firearms and crypto can be used for good and bad. Appropriate regulation can help to ensure society benefits on the whole. Weakening crypto doesn’t benefit society. It makes us vulnerable to criminals etc. Allowing the state access to keys after following due process can help society. Ofc it’s all dogma here, so I don’t expect any agreement.

      The usual argument in both firearms and crypto is that the bad guys don’t follow the rules. That’s true. Doesn’t stop us banning Tesco from selling crack/AR10s to ppl. If bad guys use crypto and refuse to abide by a court issued warrant they’re off the streets regardless.

      Some very bad law has been created and proposed in this area. We need to do all we can to ensure it is fixed/does not come to pass. However no law may end up hurting society just as badly. Don’t be like the NRA. Try to view the issue a little more holistically. And of course, make sure your MP is very clear on their constituent’s concerns in the area...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wut?

        > firearms issue in the US is met on here with mostly a “more regulation!” argument.

        Ok, since you brought up the topic of the US and their guns.

        Excluding suicides, there were approximately 16,000 gun deaths in the US in 2017 (including suicides, the figures are double).

        That's up on the previous year, which is up on the year before that etc. etc.

        There is very little counter-argument to be had against "more regulation" for guns.

        It is also totally unreasonable to seek to compare guns to encryption.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Wut?

          Show me on the doll where you can shoot someone in the face with an encrypted email.

          1. Pier Reviewer

            Re: Wut?

            “Show me on the doll where you can shoot someone in the face with an encrypted email.”

            The same place you shoot them with a lottery ticket/bottle of stout/packet of amoxicillin I guess. Note how these things are all regulated.

            As I said above - it’s all dogma here. The idea of anyone actually stopping to consider the possible pros and cons is laughable. Just as it is for the NRA. Just different areas of concern. It’s also one of (although by no means the only) reason terrible legislation gets passed around crypto in Blighty. The only voice against it is lots of dogmatic shouting. It would be better to educate your MPs around what crypto does to benefit us all, and how it’s dangers can be safely mitigated. Instead we get the laughable tripe above so guess what? You get ignored by the big boys and girls, resulting in shit regs :(

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wut?

              @Pier Reviewer

              So you move from one straw man to another, How does that even work?

              I'll try to make this straight forward. A gun can kill a person (not getting into that argument btw) encryption can't.

              It's not Dogma it's bloody common sense. you can't put a hole in a gun so anyone could use it shoot you however you can't put a hole in encryption and not stop everyone owning you.

              If you have no problem with encryption being broken then please feel free to post your bank login details and all personal emails/chat messages.

              1. Red Eyes

                Re: Wut?

                "I'll try to make this straight forward. A gun can kill a person (not getting into that argument btw) encryption can't."

                Unless some miscreant encrypts the NHS.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Wut?

          There is very little counter-argument to be had against "more regulation" for guns.

          Except that more regulation would reduce the number of gun owners dying from guns and so prolonging the problem

        3. rg287 Bronze badge

          Re: Wut?

          There is very little counter-argument to be had against "more regulation" for guns.

          Whilst I entirely agree that it's inappropriate to compare firearms to encryption, this statement is also deeply flawed.

          Talking about "American gun laws" or "American gun deaths" is a meaningless and pointless exercise. It's like talking about "European gun laws" and sweeping the UK and Czech Republic into one big generalisation.

          The areas of the US with the highest guns per capita (mostly rural areas), have the lowest incidences of gun crime and firearm homicides. The majority of such crime occurs in the top half dozen metro areas including Washington DC (the most dangerous place in the US), NYC, Chicago, Detroit and LA - which curiously have the strictest firearm laws in the US.

          Whilst it is undoubtable that the regulatory regime in the US requires change, simply saying "moar regulation" is about as useful as retweeting #KONY2012. It's basically just virtue signalling and offers nothing useful to the debate. Get detailed or don't bother.

          Moreover, the horse has bolted. Firearms (both white- and black-market) are so ubiquitous that legislation won't do much unless we're proposing that the National Guard do a house-to-house search of every residence in the US to enforce a hand-in of prohibited firearms (because they don't have a nice list of licensees like we did for the handgun ban in the UK). The US requires wholesale addressing of social inequality, inner-city deprivation, gang culture, access to further education and healthcare, etc. Firearms are just one symptom of the underlying disease, and in the long run, good doctors seek treat the illness not the symptom. But that won't happen because social welfare is a commie plot. Damn those Scandinavians and their fantastic standards of living (and widespread gun ownership).

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wut?

          "There is very little counter-argument to be had against "more regulation" for guns."

          Obviously you, like half the people with opinions on the subject, understand very little about it.

          It is very clear that in many circumstances, more regulations for guns will result in more crime and more deaths. Dragging this into a discussion of regulation of encryption confuses the issue, even though both forms of regulation are harmful.

          Repeat after me, one hundred times "It's not the guns, it's the culture".

          Where I live, we don't generally have the same culture problems, and gun regulations may well kill more people than they save... the numbers are too low, and the details of the data are fuzzy enough that it's hard to be sure.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wut?

        Nope.

        Crime in Scotland is going down. But the thing is they make it very difficult, and they do nothing about it.

        So only serious injuries get reported.

        I sadly know because I got burgled (twice) and got both my flat (once) and my car (three times) vandalized.

        The car was the fine job of freshers from the university of edinburgh, and the police did not even bother to ask the nearest pub for the recordings. They also jumped on cars on the occasion, and about 20 cars in the same street got their plates stolen.

        the point of this is saying that there is litlle precious police for real serious crimes, yet they do find the time to illegally gather information about everyone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wut?

          Where I'm based, "serious" crime is investigated quickly and with lots of resources, but other crimes are not.

          It is all a low resources thing (e.g. total number of fully trained & experienced traffic cops in the County can be counted on the fingers of 2 hands, & they often have to spend time on other work instead)

          Disclosure: This info is due to having suffered "serious" and "non serious" crimes and my dealings (or lack of) with local plod during those events.

          In my dealings with them, was also chatting to a younger PC about racism, sexism in the force - was told that (in "my" area) apparently (as far as they could tell based on older cops tales of how it was) less toxic environment than before but still too rife

      3. User McUser
        Childcatcher

        Re: Wut?

        Both firearms and crypto can be used for good and bad.

        Ugh, I know, right? Remember that time a crazy person went into that primary school with a copy of "FIPS PUB 197" and he encrypted all those poor children using a 256bit length key?

        1. Adam 1 Silver badge

          Re: Wut?

          > Remember that time a crazy person went into that primary school with a copy of "FIPS PUB 197" and he encrypted all those poor children

          And I would have got away with encrypting the whole school if not for that pesky kid Robert'); DROP TABLE Students;--

      4. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

        Re: Wut?

        "The usual argument in both firearms and crypto is that the bad guys don’t follow the rules. That’s true. Doesn’t stop us banning Tesco from selling crack/AR10s to ppl."

        Ah, the old false equivalent argument. Crypto has legitimate uses like allowing people to use online banking. I can't think of a legitimate use a member of the British public might have for crack or an AR10.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wut?

          "Crypto has legitimate uses like allowing people to use online banking. I can't think of a legitimate use a member of the British public might have for crack or an AR10."

          That is, in part, because you live in a tame little country with no wild animals to speak of. There are places in the wilderness where I have been very happy to have an AR10 or its approximate equivalent, loaded with the heaviest bullets I could easily get.

          My friend who got turned about, and ended up spending a night in the woods, feeding the fire and counting the eyes of the surrounding wolf pack felt somewhat the same.

          So yes, I have the equivalent of an AR10, and the equivalent of an AR15, both locked in my gun safe. Both will do for wolves, but only one is suitable for large bear, though something more powerful would be advisable if you really expect to be out in bear territory.

          Oh... and very few people buy AR10s - a bit light for bear, and a bit slow for a wolf pack.

          Safety tip - for bear, look at a lever action carbine in .458 Winchester Magnum or 45-70 Government (modern high power loading). Clearing a misfire is much faster and simpler than with an AR10, and a bear won't give you much time.

          While members of the British public don't have these issues at home, some of them do travel to more exciting places, and should therefore practice with the requisite safety equipment. Guns are tools, and where both my parents grew up (different places), part of the essential household equipment.

      5. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Wut?

        "What I find odd (actually I don’t) is that the firearms issue in the US is met on here with mostly a “more regulation!” argument. I agree with that argument wholeheartedly. Crypto on the other hand tends to bring out the “you can pry my AES256 keys from my cold dead hands”."

        But that's an apples-to-oranges comparison. Guns kill people. Crypto does not. It's a pretty huge difference.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wut?

          Guns don't kill people, rappers do.

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Wut?

            "Guns don't kill people, rappers do."

            No, Guns don't kill people,the holes they make in people do.

            Same with making holes in encryption. It kills it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Rudd had previously spoken out about encryption, often prompting criticism due to her apparent lack of understanding."

    How did that "apparent" get in there? #apparent

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      How did that "apparent" get in there?

      Somebody erroneously thought that apparent is a synonym for complete.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        #Apparent

        I believe the word they were supposed to use was "blatant", although it could well have been "evident", "flagrant", "glaring", "obvious", "palpable" or "patent" (amongst others) :)

        1. Chronos Silver badge

          Re: #Apparent

          I prefer "wilful." You can't be that clueless by accident. It takes effort.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: #Apparent

            "Apparent" means "based on what we can observe". It's accurate in observing someone's ignorance, even if they're just playing stupid and really do know better. A synonym in this thread is "evident", but other words suggested are materially different (and not quite 100% proven).

            In any context involving spooks (or children, or lawyers, or politicians, or thespians, not to mention cats, cuckoos, ...), you should never assume that what you see is necessarily what's really there. See also Playing Dead.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: #Apparent

            "I prefer "wilful." You can't be that clueless by accident. It takes effort."

            Given the number of things politicians prefer to misunderstand, they keep in shape for it.

    2. iron Silver badge

      It's not "apparent", its "a parent" because she was "speaking as a mother" when she made her anti-crypto statements.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "How did that "apparent" get in there?"

      Her lack of understanding was very apparent indeed.

    4. Spanners Silver badge
      Facepalm

      ?Apparent?

      I think 'apparent' is a tactful way of saying profound.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps somone could arrange some scare story to be released ...

      ... e.g. "PGP/GPG is unsafe, so you shouldn't use it" ?

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Flame

    RE: remained a prime destination for money laundering.

    Did anyone else catch the story about foreign criminals gearing up to get into business deals with desperate UK companies after Brexit ?

    linky

    which means any businesses in the EU will be averse to dealing with UK businesses simply by default.

  5. Chrissy

    Money laundering related to encryption... my a***!!

    "Remained a prime destination for money laundering"

    Read any issue of Private Eye... this specific issue is NOTHING to do with whether encryption is used or not; it is a baked-in, by design, feature of the easy to obtain shell companies that UK law allows to exist and that HMRC specifically ignore, choosing instead the low hanging fruit of the S&ME sector.

    1. Fonant

      Re: Money laundering related to encryption... my a***!!

      Quite. The UK and its dependent territories are a prime destination for money laundering and secret bank accounts for tax evasion by design. Ask the Tories where most of their money comes from.

  6. Herring` Silver badge

    Making law enforcement harder

    If everyone walked around naked with their possessions in a small, clear plastic bag, then that would make the job of law enforcement easier too - they wouldn't have to guess if people were carrying weapons, drugs, extreme porn etc.

    1. moiety

      Re: Making law enforcement harder

      To misquote Terry Pratchett, the police want you indoors with the lights on; curtains open; and your hands on the table.

      Assisting the police is not the same thing as rendering yourself totally helpless to them misusing your data. I'm all for helping to stamp out crime; but I can't trust the police as an organisation as far as I can spit a hedgehog. They had free reign of our data before everyone caught on (illegally, I might add) and they abused it. So tough fucking luck, encrypted it is.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Making law enforcement harder

      "[...] then that would make the job of law enforcement easier too - they wouldn't have to guess if people were carrying weapons, drugs, extreme porn etc."

      Anyone who appeared "clean" would still be subject to a rubber glove search if an officer claimed they looked like they were "walking funny".

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Making law enforcement harder

        Anyone who appeared "clean" would still be subject to a rubber glove search if an officer claimed they looked like they were "walking funny".

        Or the more traditional "walking while black".

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: Making law enforcement harder

      "If everyone walked around naked with their possessions in a small, clear plastic bag,"

      You would need this mask--->

      to go with the transparent budgie-smugglers...

  7. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ...service providers have migrated to encrypted services 'by default', a process that accelerated following the Snowden disclosures,"...

    So... their fault, then?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The thing I don't get about any of these governments who expel hot air about encryption is their lack of ability to do something about preventing stuff happening.

    For example. The recent Paris stabbings.

    Guess what, knife man was "known to counter-terrorism".

    So, when said known person is suddenly walking around a known tourist hot spot during peak hours ?

    Are you seriously telling me Inspector Clouseau needs access to the suspects plaintext comms to figure out something might be up ?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      The recent Paris stabbing isn't the first suspect they knew about before they committed a crime....

    2. JimC Silver badge

      > So, when said known person is suddenly walking around a known tourist

      Its a bastard isn't it, how rarely the cops arrest people who might be going to commit a crime, but haven't done so yet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: > So, when said known person is suddenly walking around a known tourist

        >Its a bastard isn't it, how rarely the cops arrest people who might be going to commit a crime, but haven't done so yet.

        Let me suggest this to you...

        Spot said known person.

        Request stop & search.

        Find great big knife.

        What's this for sir ?

        Bang him up for carrying a knife in public without good reason or lawful intent.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: > So, when said known person is suddenly walking around a known tourist

          There are around 19,000 people on the French 'S' watch list that this guy was on. Do you seriously suggest watching all 19,000 subjects 24x7x52?

          1. JimC Silver badge

            Re: Do you seriously suggest watching all 19,000 subjects 24x7x52?

            And searching them every time they go to a public place?

            WS Gilbert had it right...

          2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: > So, when said known person is suddenly walking around a known tourist

            There are around 19,000 people on the French 'S' watch list that this guy was on. Do you seriously suggest watching all 19,000 subjects 24x7x52?

            IIRC, full-time surveillance of an individual, 24/7, requires around 12 people employed full-time., so for those 19,000 people, that would mean 228,000 people employed to watch them. Assuming each is earning a rather paltry €16k for their troubles, that makes an annual cost of around €3.6Bn to watch all those suspects, in case one of them gets a bit stabby. Assuming that this prevents all terrorism-related deaths in France, and even exaggerating the number of such killings at, say 150 per year, that's €24M spent to save just one life. If you give that money to a hospital instead, you are going to save a hell of a lot more people.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: > So, when said known person is suddenly walking around a known tourist

            "There are around 19,000 people on the French 'S' watch list that this guy was on. Do you seriously suggest watching all 19,000 subjects 24x7x52?"

            Why not? Think of the benefits. The secret police would become the biggest employer in the country, by far.

            Somewhere I read that the number of people needed for a competent 24 hour covert surveillance job on one person was in the high double digits... so you'd only need about 3,000,000 surveillance operatives (after accounting for vacations, training, administrative time, sick leave, time of in lieu of worked weekends, pregnancy leave, etc), and then their trainers, support, communications, logistics, administrators, policy makers, etc....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: > So, when said known person is suddenly walking around a known tourist

          "Bang him up for carrying a knife in public without good reason or lawful intent."

          Really?

          If I were wandering around in public with a big knife and evil intent, I'd have an excellent reason for it.

          I'd also be incompetent, for not realizing that a truck is a far more effective choice in many cases, and a can of gas and some matches is right up there too. I'd have a reason for that, too. Given that 999,999 out of a million people in possession of gasoline are not planning an attack, you should be seeing the problem.

          Similar numbers undoubtedly apply for possession of knives, screwdrivers, chisels, tent pegs, grounding rods, ski poles, and so on.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Guess what, knife man was "known to counter-terrorism""

      This is the problem with mass surveillance, 'suspicion by association', 'suspicion by algorithmic analysis', and so on. The enormous number of false positives completely obscure the signal.

      When you have half a million or a million people on a watch list or no fly list, and five or ten or twenty times that number with similar or identical names, the data is essentially meaningless until after the fact.

  9. Haku

    Yeah they hate it when we do this:

    Url APN, fhpx zl onyyf!

  10. EricM

    Please tell me they _are_ aware that they mainly caught the stupid/lazy ones in the past...

    ..., namely the ones that cintinued to communicate in clear text, although easy usable encryption has been around for quite a while ... The ones that thought emails and phone calls are tapping-proof and secure (along with postcards)

    As for serious/intelligent actors, the job of law enforcement should be as hard as it has ever been.

    This includes gaining evidence by other means than just listening/reading every coms that is exchanged.

  11. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Pint

    Dark Web...

    "selling firearms, drugs, malware and people"

    Do you still get a legal 30 days return and refund when buying people? Asking for a friend.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Dark Web...

      I believe i'm within my rights as they've not sent what I ordered and it's still "unused".

      It's too big, old, and keeps complaining. It also won't go back in the box. Very unhappy customer!

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Dark Web...

      You may joke, but people trafficking and modern-day-slavery are very real problems.

      I'll just leave this here, in case anyone wants to know more. A very worthy (and underfunded) charity.

      Unseen

    3. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Dark Web...

      Only if your friend kept the receipt. And then you can only get store credit.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        Re: Dark Web...

        Too late. It's escaped.

        I have to leave now for unrelated reasons.

  12. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Decrypted Comms

    All that decrypted comms does, is give spooks more data. This does not mean it gives them more information.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Decrypted Comms

      Yes.

      In essence, all these kinds of things do (and if you believe all that "acres of datacentres" junk "listening to every phone call", etc.) is drastically reduce the signal-to-noise ratio.

      Because, I guarantee you that the REAL criminals are using proper encryption and services that don't reveal their metadata etc. anyway, and you spend your life chasing people who just applied 4096-bit encryption to their MS Paint picture for the sake of it..

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Decrypted Comms

      Nor does it give anyone more safety... only more chance of being hit hard financially and a better chance at being controlled by politicians.

  13. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    "Encryption is making it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect dangerous offenders."

    Locks on doors are making it difficult to just wander into private property. Not vocalising your thoughts all the time is making it difficult to read peoples minds.

    1. davemcwish

      Re: Vocalising your thoughts

      Just don't do anything negative/sarcastic in response to a Police post, apparently that can be classed as a malicious communication

  14. 0laf Silver badge

    We want all our citizens and businesses to be safe and secure online in order to promote the digital economy.

    Except when we don't.

    Because it's important to be safe on-line to conducts your personal lives and businesses, except with encryption coz that's bad. So be safe without encryption becasue that's important.

    Rainbows and unicorn shit form arse munching cockwombling fucking muppets.

  15. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Policing is supposed to be hard...

    ...policing is only easy in a police state.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Policing is supposed to be hard...

      In two large totalitarian states a local "police" officer had about 10,000 people to surveil. Most of their tip-offs came from members of the public for two reasons.

      1) they believed the state propaganda that it could see and hear everything. So they thought it better to accuse an associate before they themselves were thought to be an accessory.

      2) false allegations against an innocent person for malicious reasons.

      In both cases the accused person usually "disappeared" after being arrested - or there was a show trial after a confession extracted by torture or threats to the person's (or "witnesses") family.

  16. Lee D Silver badge

    Pretty much I read this as:

    "Unless criminals incriminate themselves automatically, and leave prima facie evidence everywhere they go, we can't do our job!"

    Which is slightly nonsensical, especially given that UNTIL this generation, that data didn't exist anyway. I was one of the first people in my area to start using t'Internet and encryption came along very early on (the Zimmerman case and PGP was already in place before most people even found out what DSL was... and then it was a strange American thing that we didn't have over here until many years later).

  17. charlieboywoof
    Holmes

    ...................every time

    ..............................known to the authorities........................

  18. Dodgy Dave

    To hear some people talk, you'd imagine we've entered some sort of Dark Ages of detecting crime. As though back in the 70's, before mobile phones and internet messaging, Britain was free from armed robbers, terrorists or child abusers.

    As it is, the police now have cell tower tracking, ANPR, Google search history, pervasive CCTV and amazingly sensitive DNA profiling. Plus, of course, all the garbage that the nutters willingly broadcast on social media.

    I'd like to suggest that's enough raw data; if NCA is having trouble making sense of it they need to up their analysis game. Please leave us with the dignity of private conversation between law-abiding adults.

    1. Chozo

      the dignity of private conversation

      Well said Me Old China, now do you still want that Monkey on the Airs & Graces this Avvy ?

    2. rg287 Bronze badge

      To hear some people talk, you'd imagine we've entered some sort of Dark Ages of detecting crime. As though back in the 70's, before mobile phones and internet messaging, Britain was free from armed robbers, terrorists or child abusers.

      Indeed. I always enjoyed the fictional stories of the terrorists from Northern Ireland - but that's all they were, because in a time before computers and widespread encryption it would have been impossible for a terrorist organisation to operate in a small, lightly populated area like NI where the Army and RUC were in a position to place watchtowers all over the shop, tap the phones, intercept the mail and put tails on the key suspects. They'd have been picked up and caught immediately.

      There's no way that a terrorist organisation in the 1970s could routinely set bombs, smuggle firearms or import a pair of .50cal rifles from the US under such scrutiny. It's only now, with the advent of TOR and WhatsApp that it's possible for n'eer do wells to collude and plan such activities.

  19. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    If the worlds security agencies did not abuse their powers, to do unlawful spying, then maybe we wouldn't be so hostile to them having lawful access to our data via appropriate legal warrants, but since that will never happen, go F yourselves !

  20. Death_Ninja

    Snowden....

    ....I thought he actually told us that the security services were fully capable of subverting most of the common forms of messaging platforms anyway... by virtue of leaning on the providers themselves and installing taps on the unencrypted data centre connections beyond the transport security... Actually, not just able but actually doing this for some time.

    Oh hang on, thats GCHQ and the NSA, not the NCA, local plod or my borough council, who obviously all have need to spy on me too. Couldn't they just ask to share nicely? Oh hang on, security doesn't like to share.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not try... respecting your citizens

    It's obvious by now that the UK's nanny police state project is destined for failure. If you continue down this path, it's going to be an Orwellian hell for everyone from the lowliest immigrants to the highest among police, government, and nobility - while criminals walk all over you.

    Give it up already and rejoin the free world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not try... respecting your citizens

      "Give it up already and rejoin the free world"

      Most countries are already doing it - often seeing the Five Eyes as mandating "best practice". Even those we believe to be paragons of virtue have often been tarred with their agencies doing or proposing such things.

      The major danger lies in those theoretically democratic countries where the politicians seek to remove the constitutional checks and balances on the Executive's and State's powers.

  22. BitEagle

    Mind-readers required

    When polititians and security wonks complain that encryption makes their life harder I wonder if they will ban thought on the basis that the contents of your brain can't be checked against a database of naughtiness...

    Just how much information do they require or believe they should have access to? Any security built on knowing everything is doomed to failure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mind-readers required

      Major countries have had Thought Crime laws in the past - and possibly some still do even if not formally defined as such.

      Summed up by the quote usually attributed to Cardinal Richelieu:

      "Give me six lines written by the most honest man and I will find in them something to hang him."

      Studies are progressing on how to recognise the brain activity that correlates with someone's positive reaction to a picture or written word.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its like Magic

    #Government passes laws allowing them to spy on everyone.

    #Everyone starts encrypting their data and connections.

    #Police can no longer tell if the data they are watching is a illegal torrent or a legal torrent, a group of actual criminals or terrorists communicating or grandma watching some kitten videos.

    #Government passes "hate speech" laws.

    #Doesn't actually define what hate speech is.

    #Because of "hate speech" laws, man telling joke almost ends up in prison.

    #No one was offend by said joke, no one reported said joke, and the courtroom decides what YOUR intent was.

    Don't think encrypted data is going to go away at any point soon.

    Government, the constant victim of its own failings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Its like Magic

      #Because of "hate speech" laws, man telling joke almost ends up in prison.

      An Englishman, a Scotsman and a Commentard walk into a bar ...

      a/c because ...

  24. Richard 51

    Re: Working as intended

    France tried to ban encryption or severely limit the key length and failed miserably.

    The thing is, very few of the "terrorist acts" recently have the security services (police, mi5 etc) said they could have stopped if they had access to email / instant messaging. Mostly its good old breakdowns in human intelligence e.g. ignored a good citizen reporting nefarious activities that has led to failures.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    National Crime Agency

    Well they have to be to get into peoples computers and communications

    Adapt, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt, Adapt.

    National Adaption Agency, ahh that sounds better.

  26. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Joke

    NCA warned... "Investment in UK property"

    We all know Landlords are thieving bastards but it's a surprise to hear the NCA agrees.

  27. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    This is the Precautionary Principle in action///

    ...Technologies such as virtual private networks and virtual currencies will support fast, "secure" and anonymous operating environments, facilitating all levels of criminality," the report said....

    All parts of the body facilitate alll levels of criminality,

    Hands allow someone to go shoplifting,

    Legs mean that criminals can run away,

    A brain means that people can think up crimes,

    Eyes mean that a person can read Official Secrets,

    A tongue means that people can slander important Estabishment figures...

    Perhaps we should do something about these far more common threats to our way of life?

  28. Steve D
    Big Brother

    Read the Official History of MI5

    If you read the Official History of the Security Services "The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5" by Christopher Andrew, you realise that communication interception and reading (of content not just metadata) has been central to almost every success that they will admit in public. The exceptions being mostly major defectors.

    I suspect the prospect of strong encryption by default is deeply worrying to them. But as plenty of people have posted, they have only themselves to blame.

  29. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    Fundemental rights

    Article 12 of the Universal decleration of human rights, one of the core treaties of the UN that All members must sign up to:

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    Encryption is essential to privacy of communications.

    as for the money laundering, has anyone else noticed that the worlds hot spots for dodgy money dealings are all UK overseas teratories? Jersey, Caman Islands, Bahamas ...

  30. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Devil

    Still proud I wrote my own encryption cipher for shits and giggles.

  31. Reality_Ccheque

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind...

    Encryption was popularised precisely because of these nosy agencies. Rooting out terrorists is something that most of us would support, but our communications were being spied on for other reasons, sometimes as trivial as copyright infringement.

    So people move to encryption and agencies cry 'foul'. They should have made monitoring for anything other than life-dependant scenarios illegal with heavy penalties. Encryption would then have been a solution with no problem to solve.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The police should have access to encrypted data provided they have a warrant. As the internet continues to increase in popularity more and more criminals are going to be using the Internet to do their business. I think the police needs a venue in which to access information on criminals provided they have a good reason to do so.

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