Wednesday, 27 April 2016

So, I'll try contacting Lord West #IPBill

Dear Sir,

I have heard some of your comments in the Lords, on parliament TV, and I would like to try and impart some technical knowledge to assist you in your work, if I may.

One of the key points you make, quite strongly, is that there should be no way that terrorists, pedophiles, criminals, should be able to communicate such that proper authority cannot by some means monitor what they say. No "safe places" for them.

I fully understand that the monitoring of communications is carefully controlled with safeguards and oversight to ensure such an intrusive power is used where necessary against such serious crimes.

However, I feel you may lack some understanding of basic mathematics of encryption.

It is a simple matter of fact that it is possible for two people to communicate in a way that is totally secret. Whilst computers make this easier, it can be done with no more then pen and paper and dice. It would allow secret messages that can only be read by the intended recipient, and not by GCHQ or NSA no matter how much resource they throw at it.

This is a fact - it is a fact of life and mathematics. It is not changed by speeches in the Lords or legislation.

Indeed, with the help of computers, it is possible for such communications to be embedded in random data in images and videos in such a way that it is mathematically impossible to prove there is a message being conveyed. So even outlawing such communications cannot be detected or enforced.

I will be more than happy to visit you and explain these basic principles, and even demonstrate pen and paper encryption to you. I also have some videos on the matter if you are interested.

Given that this is a fact of life, a reality, can you perhaps concentrate your efforts on the negative side effects of Draconian laws to stop people communicating. Criminals can communicate, end of story. All such laws do is impact those of us that choose to abide by laws, and in doing so we open ourselves to criminals attacking us.

Please do take this email seriously. I am a technology expert. I have given oral and written evidence to the committee on the IP Bill. I run training courses on this. I write code for a living and I run an ISP. I can help you understand the issues, and perhaps the serious negative side effects, of your views.

Respectfully,

--
Adrian Kennard
Director, Andrews & Arnold Ltd.

5 comments:

  1. An excellent letter...I hope it has some effect on the good Lord, and he takes you up on your offer.

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  2. They don't care, they just want their law as it is currently written. Little details like facts don't matter.

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  3. I just emailed the following to Lord West:


    Dear Lord West,

    I am writing with regards to your recent comments in the Lords about the IP Bill, in particular your comment that " that there should be no way that terrorists, pedophiles, criminals, should be able to communicate such that proper authority cannot by some means monitor what they say."

    I am a solicitor specializing in IT law and I have deep and detailed knowledge of IT systems, communications systems and encryption and I am familiar with the practical aspects companies have to grapple with when facing misguided government regulation such as the IP Bill.

    I am afraid to say that your above quoted statement reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how communications and mathematics in general, and the Internet in particular, work.

    Any two parties wishing to communicate in secret are and will always be able do so, using either non-electronic or electronic means. That is a mathematical fact. No "provider" is required to facilitate such communication. Service providers such as Faceboook, WhatsApp or Apple merely make it more convenient or fanciful to communicate.

    Parties intent on concealing their communications can simply do so by using an encryption algorithm agreed among them and communicating directly over the Internet or by other means, encrypting their messages. There is no "provider" who can decrypt such messages, no matter what any misguided legislation says.

    All that the IP Bill, if passed, will achieve is to compromise the privacy of law abiding citizens, impose additional regulatory and financial burden on British businesses and thus reduce their competitiveness, and drive IT business and innovation abroad. No criminal will be stopped from using encrypted means of communication, not one.

    You cannot stop criminals using encryption by legislation, just as you cannot make it rain by legislation,

    Please understand it.

    Kind Regards,

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  4. https://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Lord_West_of_Spithead

    With this guy's background, I don't believe for one single nano-second that he does not understand clearly that he is talking rubbish.

    This is all deliberately calculated PR by playing the 'paedo-terrorist' card.

    Do we really think that any of the Qinetiq technical staff would sign-off a system in which a third party could get hold of decryption keys.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed. From the Government’s point of view the bill, as written, will achieve exactly what they intend, which is the future ability to monitor the general population’s communications so that anyone expressing politically incorrect opinions can be arrested (or perhaps ‘re-educated’)for ‘thought crime’. That’s already happening to a limited degree using existing anti-terrorism laws. Ok, they’re aware they won’t be able to monitor the likes of most of us posting here, who know how to avoid their electronic surveillance but they also know that the average Joe and Josephine won’t bother with VPNs, Tor or email end-to-end encryption, even those who know how. Thus, combined with Retention Orders, the weakening of encryption will enable them to profile the vast majority of the population.

      Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is party political or the brainchild of the ‘evil Tories’. Just look at similar legislation that the last Labour Government tried to introduce as well as ID cards championed by the Labourite Lord West and the current Labour party are certainly not opposing the IP Bill. All those in power will always seek more power until they have absolute power. It is the nature of humans as evidenced throughout history. In as little as fifty years, as technology advances, most of the world will be living under a totalitarian surveillance state and I cannot see any way of preventing that outcome in the long term.

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