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Theresa May’s repeated calls to ban encryption still won’t work


In the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London, the Prime Minister Theresa May has again called for new laws to regulate the internet, demanding that internet companies do more to stamp out spaces where terrorists can communicate freely.

The arguments against banning encryption are well rehearsed, but worth repeating. Encryption is not just a tool used by terrorists. Anyone who uses the internet uses encryption. Messaging apps, online banking, e-commerce, government websites, or your local hospital all use encryption.

A ban on encryption would make it impossible to do anything online that relies on keeping things private, like sending your credit card details or messaging your doctor.

Even if governments were willing to sacrifice their citizen’s online privacy, any sort of ban would be futile anyway. Anyone with a little technical know-how could write their own code to encrypt and decrypt data. In fact, the code to do so is so small it easily fits on a t-shirt.

Another way to get rid of May’s “safe spaces” that has been mooted is to give security services special access to encrypted messages, so-called back doors. Again this is impractical.

If a “master key” was created that allowed security services to bypass encryption it would immediately become a target for hackers. Anyone feeling hostile could focus their efforts on cracking the master key, and in doing so would not just get access to one person’s data, but everyone’s.

Last month New Scientist called for a greater understanding of technology among politicians.


Thoughts.  The New Scientist has rightly called for a greater understanding amongst politicians.

What Teresa May is actually saying is:

  1. We ban internet banking (as that relies on encryption for security).
  2. We ban internet shopping (as Amazon relies on encryption too).
  3. We ban basically, all transactions on the Internet.

Do you agree with her?

The Internet and Encryption go hand in hand, you cannot use one safely without the other.  I don’t see where she’s going with this argument, as it is a non starter.

However, it does show her lack of understanding of how the Internet relies upon encryption to function.


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