David Cameron the UK Prime Minister has stated in an event in the East Midlands that new online data laws are required to remove the safe places that Terrorists communicate with each other. He also stated that he would push this if re-elected as Prime Minister.
One particular statement is of concern to me. David Cameron said, “There should be no means of communication which we cannot read”. This statement worries me. It implies that the use of encryption will be restricted in some way. Maybe by restricting the levels of encryption is use or by inserting backdoors into software or hardware. Can you imagine the notion of a backdoor? This means intentionally adding an alternative way of gaining access. What if the bad guys found this too.
On one hand I am patriotic and want to make sure that the police and security services can do their job. Mainly to protect me and my family from terrorists and other criminals. On the other hand I am a security professional and understand the continual and ongoing threat from criminals that try to attack and abscond with our data, or worse in some cases.
Because of this I want to make sure that my data and the services that I use are protected in the best ways possible. This is an ongoing struggle, and something that needs to evolve as time goes on.
An example of this is the recent issues with OpenSSL (Poodle & Heartbleed). I have had to make various changes to the security settings I use of the past year. If my Government had mandated that I need to use a maximum of SSLv3, then suddenly I would have a problem. I could not go to TLSv1.0 because I would be breaking the law, and I could not stay with SSLv3 because my data would be at risk. The nature of politics does not allow for law changes over night. Suddenly I am between a rock and a hard place. What do you do?
I would like to draw your attention to Moore’s Law, that stated “Computing performance doubles every 18 months”. Computing is by its very nature dynamic. Put simply… Things can change very quickly, in sometimes unpredictable ways. I truly hope that the people in power that make these kinds of laws recognise that.
The last thing I would like to draw your attention too, is Edward Snowden. He recognised that the American government had too much power and that this needed reigning in, so they are held accountable for their actions . We need the same in the UK. We need to make sure that our government is held responsible for their actions and that they are not allowed to do anything stupid.
In closing, terrorists and criminals are clever. What is to stop them from using services outside the UK without restricting our right to a free and open Internet?
*Update 14th January 2015 @ 07:55
Since I wrote this The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) has published a report stating at more security and encryption and privacy is needed, not less.