Jun 5, 2017

Theresa May’s call to ‘regulate the internet’ is a fantasy world of insecure security

Predictable calls for access to encrypted communications make us less safe, and are a cover for the security failures of authorities.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

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How would you like governments, their public servants and their hired contractors, to be able to break into any encryption you use online -- your private messages, your internet banking, the internet-enabled toys your kids use, your car, your fridge, the lot -- because "things need to change" in the fight against terrorism?

Some of you would be uncomfortable with that; others might accept it as a price worth paying to stop the kind of attacks we've seen repeatedly in recent months in the UK and on the weekend.

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18 thoughts on “Theresa May’s call to ‘regulate the internet’ is a fantasy world of insecure security

  1. Kim Colbourne

    The only thing that would be left on the internet if there were built-in backdoors to encryption would be Twitter. And the only one posting on that would be Trump.
    At a time when the web community is being encouraged to leave behind http and instead secure websites behind https (encryption certificates) a sitting Prime Minister wants to argue for a completely insecure web?

  2. klewso

    “They hate us for our freedoms – so let us take one more.”
    …. If these governments get their way those terrorists won’t have anything to hate us for.

  3. graybul

    Governments fear social media far more than terrorists.

  4. Xoanon

    Rather than pandering to panic merchants, governments would do better to be frank with the public about the inevitable risk of terrorism, while doing all they can to prevent it.

    I’ve been heartened by the “keep calm and carry on” Londoners’ reaction. It’s exactly what the terrorists don’t want, people being determined to go about their lives undaunted.

    In this light, right-wing politicians who vilify Muslims and stir up fear should be treated with the contempt they deserve. They clearly have no interest in stopping terrorism, nor defying terrorists’ attempts to change the way our society operates.

    1. Bill Hilliger

      As long as Tony Blair is safe, that’s what counts.

  5. pritu

    Her comments are clearly aimed at the UK version of the Hanson/Trump voter demographic. Should score her a few votes from that corner that may otherwise go to UKIP.

  6. Dog's Breakfast

    It’s even worse Bernard, in that the more data that is available to spooks, the more time they spend on useless activities, while repeated examples exist of ‘known threat’ becoming actual threats.

    Spooks and police should do what they do best, which is to chase up the leads they have. History shows that very few to none of those leads come from internet surveillance.


  7. Salamander

    Stop bombing “innocent people” in the Middle East, might help?

    1. Woopwoop

      This is simplistic. In Iraq, sure, the place got worse after the invasion. It was done for base motives.
      In Libya, the intervention was cack-handed, but but less self-interested.
      In Syria, there were desperate calls for Western governments to intervene AFTER the situation became dire.
      To see these interventions as the main cause of terrorism suggests a one-eyed partisan agenda.

      1. Salamander

        So we’ve stuffed it up so badly there’s nothing to be done except keep on bombing. Historically a pretty ineffective strategy I believe.

        1. AR

          It was bLIAR during the Balkans break-up who first used the phrase “humanitarian bombing” referring to attacking the Belgrade TV station in support of… Albanian terrorists in Kosovo.
          My, how Time flies.

      2. John Hall

        It is pretty simple. The West has stuffed up the Middle East particularly after WW1. Just as they stuffed up Africa. In the former greed for oil and colonial boundary lines made true nation-building problematic. The overthrow of Saddam was a war crime – we were lied to about WMD’s – and resulted in countless innocent lives being lost. We helped create the terrorist threat that now walks our streets & still haven’t woken up to the gradual decline in our own democracy as a result of fear politics.

      3. MAC TEZ

        Hang on a minute Woop, there was no mention in the comment that a shitload of “collateral damage” is the main cause of terrorism. Nor did you offer an idea of what the main cause might be.
        It seems to me that the Sunni Wahhibist interpretation of Islam promoted by some Saudis is the real issue but the extent of the “collateral damage” has to be the worst kind of PR the West could wish for.

        1. Woopwoop

          The main cause? Too many young men with nothing to do.
          Agreed, collateral damage doesn’t help, but what about the Syrians begging the West to stop Assad? What should be done? Refrain form doing anything?
          And sure Wahhabi Islam is toxic, but there are lots of toxic ideas out there. What makes people (I mean young men) pick them up?

  8. Graeski

    The proposal has nothing to do with implementing an effective strategy against terrorism, it’s a piece of purely diversionary political theatre. For those voters too disengaged or too thick to understand the infeasibility of the proposal, it creates the impression of the government ‘taking action’ against the terrorist threat. For those inclined to challenge the government, it takes them down the blind alley of ‘will it work/won’t it work’ discussions for the next few news cycles until the next crisis grabs everyone’s attention. In both cases, it helps the government retain votes.

    In the meantime, something that COULD be done to effectively undermine the terrorists – that is, cutting off their funding at the source – is being completely ignored for solely political purposes. Saudi Arabia is the wellspring of both the Wahhabist sect of Islam that motivates the jihadists, and the source of their financial support, and yet Western governments continue to fail in taking the Saudis to task. In fact, in the case of President Chump, he’s doing everything he can to support them and drive business opportunities their way. Bad though he may be, though, he’s not alone amongst world leaders in ignoring the link between the two.

    Why is that, I wonder?

  9. AR

    I’m off to buy some tougher tinfoil to reinforce my hat without even mentioning false flags or black ops.
    The latest outrage, whatever its origins – latest news is that one of the killers, a Moroccan, had an Irish ID card – will be used by the creaking Maybot to try to garner a few more frightened voters to her strong & stable panic.
    Never let a crisis go to waste, there is always advantage to be found if one is sufficiently lacking in scruples.
    The majority of petit bourgeois will always prefer stability over freedom as they are always afraid that the unwashed will take their small advantages.
    Unlike Niemoeller, they have no fear of the State until it’s too late because they truly believe that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to fear.
    The problem is not just the government knowing all about you but when it knows more about you than you do – ie error.
    Better 9 guilty escape than one innocent be condemned is not a widely acknowledged axiom.

  10. Francis Zuckero

    I don’t understand what pedophiles are doing on your list of bad guys. They might want encryption for their own communications, but why would pedophile rings want “access to the world’s encryption systems”? In the recent history of the internet, the media-stoked fear of pedophiles has been used regularly and prominently by security agencies to demand more power to look at our communications and our computers. Now there’s another reason to be frightened of them? I am confused.

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