David and the quest to ban encryption
You haven’t had to spend a lot of time on UK news-sites lately to get a very clear mental picture of the UK tech-community doing a collective face-palm exclaiming “What the F is David Cameron thinking”.
What is the big problem here? Well David Cameron, the UK prime minister, gave a speech where he was thought to have said that government agencies should get access to encrypted devices and communication following the recent terror attacks in Paris. It could mean that services like WhatsApp or Snapchat would either have to comply with the new rules or risk being banned in the UK.
The problem is, some writers argue, that this would make encryption useless, as having a duplicate key or a backdoor to an encrypted device or service opens them to attack from the outside as well.
But it’s a confusing issue. Is Cameron ignorant? Is he technologically-illiterate? Is he clever? What’s happening here? According to City AM David Cameron doesn’t even want to ban encryption after all.
To muddle the issue even further a recent leaked US study called encryption the “best defense” against attacks on private data and observed that computers are often left open to attacks.
So where will all of this end? US President Barack Obama has given David Cameron his support, the encryption ban could become reality.
Forbes writer Thomas Fox-Brewester argues that this will lead to a country for no business. He imagines Britain in 2018 with a newly elected David Cameron as leader, again. It’s a bleak vision of the future.
The economic strife has partly been brought about by a general decline in business activity. Many foreign firms have fled the country due to the speedy introduction and enactment of the Anti-Terror Communications Act 2016, which was spawned shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and implicitly outlawed the use of encryption in modern communications technologies. As many businesses use such comms systems, this has perversely opened up more corporate data to criminals and intelligence agents from countries seeking to establish digital espionage operations inside organisations across industries.
The worst impact has come from the rapidly diminishing finance industry of the capital, where banks, who rely on off-the-shelf encryption technologies as much as terrorists do, have decided to move operations to less repressive environments.The once-burgeoning technology industry has been eviscerated, as the UK is deemed a backwards country afraid of secure systems, meaning more significant job cuts across London, Manchester, Cambridge and other tech hubs.