The politics of encryption, and the ignorance of politics

The Eclectic Light Company

Every few months there is another salvo of allegations about the desire of governments, particularly those in the UK and US, to somehow ban or circumvent the use of encryption on the Internet.

So far all this has revealed is that some governments want free access to private electronic communications, but don’t seem to know how to achieve that, other than by making sweeping statements which they then have to correct.

In the UK, for example, the Prime Minister has been variously quoted as saying that it should not be permissible for there to be a means of communication between two people that government agencies cannot read. But when the everyday importance of encrypted communications in commerce, for example, has been pointed out, and there have been other examples cited of the routine use of encryption for some forms of privacy, “sources” have claimed that there is no intention to…

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