back to article New UK Home Sec invokes infosec nerd rage by calling for an end to end-to-end encryption

Priti Patel has declared war on encryption safeguards, demanding they be torn up for the convenience of police workers. Patel, the social conservative appointed Home Secretary by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, used this morning's Daily Telegraph to call for end-to-end encryption to be broken with backdoors …

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

      Well, if you made that public, and the just udpated the database to indicate that the local sex crimes unit officer (who's name and position is publicly known) and acessed everyone's records, you could probably get all of the kiddy fiddlers to off themselves in a week or so. You'd still be hard pressed to put that genie back in the bottle, though.

      On second thought, having all of the actuall terrorists all blow themselves, and those around them, up over the span of a week would probably be looked back on as a rather shitty time to be alive...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

      "If someone in government looks up your data, you can find out who did and for what purpose."

      And exactly what can you then do about it?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

        You can formulate a response, depending on whether or not the intrusion was justified.

        The key point being that you have knowledge upon which to act, as opposed to not even knowing it's happening.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

          there's a famous phrase 'knowledge is power'

          but it's actually incorrect. power is power. knowledge is the burden of knowing whats happening to you without the power to do anything about it. it's actually disempowering in that instance.

          just like choice is only liberating when you have the knowledge and ability to pick between your options. if not, choice is actually oppresive.

          its the basics of user interface design:

          - do not present users with options they cannot distinguish between

          - do not burden users with information that cannot effect actions

          - there's more. lots more. and a lot of them go against common addages.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

            but you can't deny that knowledge is knowledge - I didn't claim any of the other stuff you mentioned :)

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

            "knowledge is the burden of knowing whats happening to you without the power to do anything about it. it's actually disempowering in that instance."

            I disagree. Otherwise, what's the power of blackmail? "I know something you might now want the world to know, hmm hmm?"

            Now, granted, there is a level of power that allows one to disregard blackmail and the like, but that's a highly sanctified tier that few can actually reach. If you're not one of those few, like they say, a little knowledge can be dangerous.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

          "You can formulate a response"

          And much good may that do you. However it persuades the little people that ID cards are Good Things I can see why the Estonian PTP had it built that way. There is, of course, the underlying assumption that it actually does work the way the little people have been told it does.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

            For a lot of people a lot of the time an official id card makes life a lot easier. In particular to the system of providing three utility bills

    3. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Estonia tells you who in government has been looking at your data

      Estonian citizen smartcards are made by Gemalto - I used to work for NewsGem, their Murdoch Sky News branch. They were specifically targetted by our security services. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/19/nsa-gchq-sim-card-billions-cellphones-hacking

      They were also hit by this flaw: https://www.ft.com/content/874359dc-925b-11e7-a9e6-11d2f0ebb7f0

      Everyone has been looking at Estonian data.

  1. smudge
    FAIL

    What took her so long?

    She's been Home Secretary for nearly a week. WTF has she been doing?

    What the US wanted last week, the UK wants this week. Welcome to the new government's modus operandi.

    Only good point is that, unlike Trump, she is unlikely to build a base out of white Christian evangelicals and supremacists :)

    1. cookieMonster

      Re: What took her so long?

      Mabey next week?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What took her so long?

      Her (and the rest of the current government's) base is the swarming ranks of readers of the Daily Mail. They still hammer on about how "we" won WW2 and don't even realise that they're the fascists now. In practical terms the UK is no better off than the USA.

      It doesn't really matter how the race or religion demographics of this base are characterised, all that's important is that members are wilfully ignorant and routinely treat anyone they see as not in "their" tribe with spite and disrespect. Normally I'd be looking to the left to haul us out of this mess at the next general election, but all I see over there is a weak leader held up by a cult of personality (Momentum) that shows many of the same traits as the rabid right wing.

      This is where our "winner takes it all" politics has led us. The best we can hope for is continued hung parliaments and ongoing stalemate to stop the next custodians of HM government from steering us off a cliff.

      1. acid andy
        Facepalm

        Re: What took her so long?

        Corbyn's a strong leader. He's stood firm despite endless attempted character assassinations. I'm willing to bet you only think he's weak primarily because you read or heard other people expressing that view, rather than forming the opinion purely from the evidence you observe. Don't fall for all the propaganda.

        I know some Remainers are frustrated with Labour but going 100% Remain would be electoral suicide for them.

  2. Jigsy
    Big Brother

    Shameless plug

    They never learn, do they?

    That said I'll throw my own interesting take on encrypting messages out there: https://github.com/Jigsy1/IdeoCipher

  3. SVV

    Easy solution

    Facebook, Twitter, et al just need to announce that if this is passed into law, then sadly their services will no longer be available in the UK, as they wish to keep users in other countries secure. Once the public discover that the sites they are addicted to on the web will be taken away from them there would be an almighty uproar.

    Just start bombarding your users with an information campaign. Fexit means Fexit. Twexit means Twexit.

    At least this new lot are so stupid that they seem to be using their old boss's paymaster the Daily Telegraph as their Pravda. Behind that paywall, few will be exposed to all the propoganda.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Easy solution

      "Facebook, Twitter, et al"

      ...where "et al" includes all online banks and shopping sites. I would add government websites to that list, but I'm not sure how many useful services are actually available online.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      No Easy Solution ..... for Leading Horses with No Need to Drink the Kool-Aid*

      At least this new lot are so stupid that they seem to be using their old boss's paymaster the Daily Telegraph as their Pravda. Behind that paywall, few will be exposed to all the propoganda. .... SVV

      Makes you wonder what sort of brains/cells are at the helm of the Daily Telegraph when they be expecting the masses to be paying for disinformation and misdirection by an exposed few?

      Addled springs immediately to mind, if one is in a generous frame of mind. Others may favour ripe rotten to the core, corrupt and/or perverted.

      *Drinking the Kool-Aid

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: No Easy Solution ..... for Leading Horses with No Need to Drink the Kool-Aid*

        Army fights foreign views with home-grown news, says the Guardian ..... Propagandists and Hackers R Us

        Good luck with that abortion of an operation creating Frankenstein monsters for the sport of slaying ..... or taking over.

        Have no lessons been learned from the massive train wreck which is Russiagate in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave ...... https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/07/mueller-sticks-the-final-shiv-in-the-russiagate-hoax/

        What parts of .... What You Give is What You Get ..... are so clearly misunderstood?

        1. Cliff Thorburn

          Re: No Easy Solution ..... for Leading Horses with No Need to Drink the Kool-Aid*

          “Good luck with that abortion of an operation creating Frankenstein monsters for the sport of slaying ..... or taking over.”

          Well that truth is certainly stranger than fiction is it not?

          'All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.'

          Author: Edmund Burke

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No Easy Solution ..... for Leading Horses with No Need to Drink the Kool-Aid*

          National Review: From https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/national-review/ :

          These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy. See all Right Bias sources.

          Overall, we rate the National Review Right Biased based on story selection that always favors the right and Mixed for factual reporting due to misleading claims and occasional use of poor sources.

          Detailed Report

          Factual Reporting: MIXED

          Country: USA

          World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180

        3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          What could possibly go wrong?

          Novel Virgin Regimented Forces against Restless and Rebellious State and Non State Actor Sources?

          Well, there are two things then to immediately note are impossible to avoid, and there are surely bound to be many more too ....

          1) the UK Special IntelAIgent Services are pitted in competition and/or opposition to NSAs Squandering Uncle Sam's Resources ..... so any Special Relationships there are FCUKd

          2) Successful Engagement at any Practical or Virtual Level has Restless and Rebellious State and Non State Actor Sources Stealthily Infesting and Infiltrating Vital Leading Strategic and Tactical Communications Channels ...... which are Pumping Pulp Fiction for Virtual Realisation and Mass Media Presentation in Daily Attempt to both Macro and Micro Manage Universal Perceptions/Grand MetaDataBase Designs ...... and that has key players, both virtually new and as old as the hills, stepping into the realms of directing instructions where madness and mayhem take no live prisoners.

          Do you not think national and internationally armed defence and attack forces are not traumatised and decimated enough via their actions just following crazy orders?

          Now you're gonna launch them into an environment which is default hostile and quickly destructive to false propheteering.

          All of that is where it can go so easily so terrifically wrong.

  4. Kingstonian
    Big Brother

    Journalists distort statements to forward their own agenda. As do Governments.

    The article on the front page of the Telegraph and continued on to page 2 by Charles Hymas its Home Affars Editor grossly distorts what is said in Priti Patel's commentary on page 2 in order to support the Telegraphs own position (campaign to protect children). The Article on the register distorts the Priti Patel article to support its position e.g. "throwaway lines", "backdoors". The Priti Patel commentary appears to me to be more reasoned and doesn't mention any solutions but highlight problems and challenges.

    Her paragraph regarding legitimate concerns over use of personal data and theft of private information is only partially quoted in the Telegraph. The Register says she "call(s) for end-to-end encryption to be broken with backdoors inserted for illicit law enforcement access". nowhere in the Patel article is the word backdoor used - just a need to work with tech. companies. I don't belive there will be a satisfactory solution to the issue - encryption is a tool that can be used to hide evil things but also for legitimate privacy.

    You can read the Patel article on the telegraph site (paywall or with a limited number of articles per month)

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Journalists distort statements to forward their own agenda. As do Governments.

      You can call a horse a shrew if you want, but it's still a horse.

      Any way of accessing an encrypted communication when you're not Alice or Bob is a backdoor. Doesn't matter whether you're an Eve, Mallory, Chuck, Craig etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Journalists distort statements to forward their own agenda. As do Governments.

        Of course she doesn't mention backdoors. Backdoors are bad.

        No, no, this is just a requirement for a facilitative oversight mechanism* to be put in place for the use of law enforcement. Totally different.

        *or whatever they're marketing it as this time around

  5. Dr_N Silver badge

    Priti Dumb as well as Priti corrupt then

    No need to hide either trait in this toxic climate.

  6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Oh dear

    Looks like my simple Java messaging app built for my OU degree will fall foul of the new law.

    mostly because I added Xor encyrption to it for a laugh..... and now the powers cant listen in to whatever I'm jibbering about when I talk to the only other user on the internet.....

    and 5 years in the slammer because it generates keys on the fly......

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Oh dear

      mostly because I added Xor encryption to it for a laugh.

      You are eminently qualified to be Boris' Encryption Tzar.

      Boris the love rat and Boris the Cockroach...

      1. Long John Brass
        Coat

        Re: Oh dear

        I thought Boris was the spider?

        Look, he's crawling up my wall

        Black and hairy, very small

        Now he's up above my head

        Hanging by a little thread

        Boris the spider

        Boris the spider

        ...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Set an example?

    Maybe the Government could backdoor their own encryption to demonstrate to Industry how safe it is?

  8. Daytona955

    Home Office. That's where the Maybot's 6 simulated neurons got their initial conditioning. Looks like the training program hasn't changed then...

  9. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

    As usual...

    They really hate it when they are made to do their job.

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    She seems an ideal host for whatever the Home Office inserts in the brain of their so-called masters

    An authoritarian with a fondness for taking un reported meetings with foreign powers.

    No doubt entirely ignorant about what she's actually asking for and why it can't be done in the way she want's it.

    Because all that matters is "We wants it."

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      She seems an ideal host for whatever the Home Office inserts in the brain of their so-called masters

      An authoritarian with a penchant for capital punishment no less.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        She seems an ideal host for whatever the Home Office inserts in the brain of their so-called masters

        Is there any other kind of authoritarian?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Always surprised she and IDS never donned neo fascist uniforms, always thought IDS hankered after a uniform just like Mengele tbh.......all that black, shiny totenkopfs and all that unfettered power to "punish" people without any annoying courts etc getting in the way.....

        I wonder if Irma Grese is Priti Patel's heroine....

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: She seems an ideal host for whatever the Home Office inserts in the brain of their so-called...

      Just as night follows day, won't be long before the topic of ID cards comes back up

      1. CountCadaver

        Re: She seems an ideal host for whatever the Home Office inserts in the brain of their so-called...

        and road pricing and whatever else couldn't be shoved through under nulabour.....

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: She seems an ideal host for whatever the Home Office inserts in the brain of their so-called...

          It wasn't for want of trying on nulabour's part.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guardian Remoaner types have landed here too!!

    i see the Guardian reading Remoaner type commentators have landed here too!!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. nath042

    she needs to clear off, why must every home secretary fight the internet and not the source of the problem?

    1. Chronos

      Three words: Low. Hanging. Fruit. Tackling the fundamental issue is too difficult. This makes both the puppetmasters in Washington and the Daily Failers happy,¹ and allows them to Be Seen To Be Doing Something™, even if that something is pretty much a) impossible, b) has too many proven cases of collateral damage and c) involves capturing a horse that has already bolted, bred, died and its progeny evolved into something unrecognisable.

      Add to this the fact that HomeSec is something of a poison chalice these days and you get this nonsense every single time.

      ¹ Jacob Flea-bitten Moggy will be apoplectic that I just used an Oxford comma. Sadly for him, I'm not subject to his "guidelines for writing."

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        It wasn't actually an Oxford comma to which he objected. He probably rather likes them; Oxford = good after all. It was a comma after "and" and, as it happens, I don't see anything wrong with that.

  13. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    Her tune will change once Facebook lobbyists secretly pay her off

  14. Milton

    Priti Useless at it again

    'Failing upwards' is a phrase currently in vogue, and seems to apply to most of the new cabinet. Priti Useless (I think we have the Guardian's John Crace to thank for that), already disgraced once, renowned for talking shyte, despised by her civil servants for her serpentine dishonesty, seems like the perfect example of 'all ambition, zero talent'.

    But even she is surely capable of asking any one of several hundred mathematicians working for GCHQ, or any of the managers and supervisors they report to, a very simple question: is it practically possible to introduce a backdoor into an encryption system without fatally weakening that system for all users?

    The only possible answer is 'No.'

    Because the math doesn't lie. It doesn't matter how many times a government minister or poorly-informed security type spits the dummy and screams 'But I want π to be 3.00 exactly!'—π doesn't care, and will continue being (in)exactly what it is.

    The stupidity and ignorance of modern politicians is truly breathtaking.

    1. mark4155

      Re: Priti Useless at it again

      Quite right old bean. Though Shyte is spelled Shite at Eaton. Toodle Pip.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Priti Useless at it again

      you think GCHQ care?

      Likely to them the ends justify the means......the old "empire" mindset is still strong in UK.gov i.e. "we're the most advanced country on gods earth, a proverbial Jerusalem, so nothing to worry about, those fuzzy wuzzys probably don't have electricity yet let alone computers, they wouldn't dare either, we had an empire you know and they should ruddy well remember that"

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patel

    the thread is interesting, I have a (vague) impression that the level of hate against the fresh Secretary is somewhat differently angled than the hate against the previous one, with quite a few posts linking her nastiness and (lack of) intelligence with he fact she that the current one is a woman. While I laugh and fart in the general direction of the current fad of women-hater-hunting and women-promoting, based on this thread I do have this uncomfortable feeling that there's more than a grain of truth in womenophobia in a male-dominated environment.

    Plus, more to the point, once we look past the feel-good hate-session, developments for encryption look grim. I'm sure some smart busy-bodies are working hard behind the scenes to come up with a gov-pleasing feasible "solutions", that is, banning encryption in the uk, perhaps combined with some sort of license to use it, similar to that latest porn license, but more tightly controlled (think of children and terrorists and millions will approve). Yes, I do realize how silly it seems and what about businesses, well, I'm sure the British government will be happy to learn the lessons of our Chinese friends, given how few friends we have left.

    One solution I see (even though I'm technically inept) is some legislation that forces ISPs to block encrypted traffic, unless the user is checked against some license - and that license comes with a mandatory "law enforcement access" details. And if there are no keys, well, no traffic. And don't tell me the government can't cripple businesses and private usage because the impact for the affected would be massive. They can, I'm sure they did in the past, and likewise, they will in the future, if they decide it's worth the perceived "benefits"

    Control will happen, because this is how things progress with the internet in general, the rumblings about encryption have been heard for quite some time now, and it's only a matter of time. I wish it was otherwise, but :/

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Patel

      It is not that she is a woman, but that she is not suitable.

      I LIKE women, I also like having them in parliament, I also think that many people will look a lot more favourably at Theresa May now we have BoJo.

      The women who do get the mickey taken are the ones promoted above their abilities like the current HS and the shadow HS. Mind you the PM and Leader Opposition are also promoted above their abilities.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Patel

      So much wrong about your post but others have already pointed most of that out to you.

      For me the worst aspect is you display the increasingly common attitude that the State is entitled to invade every aspect of our lives simply because they think they can. I guess it's our own fault for handing over power to the worst possible examples of bottom feeders that are the politicians of today.

      Well, it seems you get the government you deserve.

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