Earlier this week, David Cameron came out with a spectacularly ridiculous statement by promising that, if re-elected as Prime Minister following the 2015 General Election, he will push to ban end-to-end encryption. To counter the threat of terrorism, Cameron stated that there should be “no means of communication” that “we cannot read”.
Given both the prevalence and importance of encrypted communication online, it was a ridiculously naive statement to make. Being charitable, I suspect that it was simply an attempt to garner support early in an election year from the general public who understand few of the details about how modern technology works in practice.
As ever, Cory Doctorow wrote a detailed and insightful piece explaining the futility of such a suggestion, as did Professor Bill Buchanan who succinctly set out an explanation of why encryption is so important for us all.
Encryption is a core service on the internet (think of online shopping, banking and messaging for starters). It’s crucial for both the security and privacy of individual’s communications.
David Cameron (2014): “Let’s make London a fintech hub.” David Cameron (2015): “Let’s make London a plaintext fintech hub.”
— Eli Dourado (@elidourado) January 13, 2015
It appears now that the Prime Minister’s office might just have realised the futility of this suggestion. Let’s hope so.