back to article British intelligence recycles old argument for thwarting strong encryption: Think of the children!

Two notorious characters from the British security services have published a paper that once again suggests breaking strong end-to-end encryption would be a good thing for society.  Nearly four years ago Ian Levy, technical director of the UK National Cyber Security Centre, along with technical director for cryptanalysis at …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Dear government

    Mind your own sodding business.

    1. Craig 2
      Trollface

      Re: Dear government

      I totally agree with you but, by the very definition of the word Govern, we are their business!

      1. Boork!

        Re: Dear government

        The legitimacy of government does not and must not exceed lawfulness, ethics or the consent of the public. We are not the property of the government to be arbitrarily disposed of as they see fit. Government is a necessary evil, and it must be limited and restrained.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Dear government

          While I agree, "they" don't see it that way. For them we're a bunch of unruly toddlers they have to watch over, and which ideally should be confined to their playpens and closely monitored...

          Now this terminally hackneyed "Somebody think of the children" argument is a loaded rhetoric tool, so popular and widely (ab)used because it makes all discussion impossible: In this case, claim you're against backdoors, and here you are publicly admitting you're a child abuser! You fiend!...

          Obviously one shouldn't ever consider the argument itself, which is that child abuse hinges on encryption, and without encryption all children would be safe. Which is obviously utter nonsense, it is widely known most active child abusers are family members and thus don't need encryption of any kind.

          Just keep in mind that no matter the cause they try to peddle, people having to resort to this hackneyed "children" cliche are always disingenuous, and clearly have a agenda they can't admit to.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Gimp

            Data fetishists got to fetishise

            It's not a policy.

            It's a personality disorder.

            They literally can never have enough data.

            Anything less than everything is never going to be enough for them.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Data fetishists got to fetishise

              GCHQ has zero interest in child-porn detection, so why are they chipping in? Obviously they have skin in the game here. I suspect they need the principle to justify some existing backdoor mass surveillance they themselves are doing. I suspect they want that done before a change of government. I fear they would interfere in the change of government to achieve that ass-covering legislation.

              I think the article completely misses the point. People have a privacy right, here Pritti Patel made a false accusation: "privacy = pedos sharing child porn" to annul that right, and various entities have added meat ot that, by making blantantly false claims, (like the NGO's claiming 20% of kids under 5 are victims of violent child sex abuse, for that EU report, utter bollocks that fell apart simply by reading their sources).

              Vague claims about how companies could "mediate" the privacy right, somehow protecting the privacy while breaking the end to end encryption? Oh fook off. Any scanner they install will quickly be moved server side and they would quickly get your extra code in it.

              However I notice there is *not* a lot of flak against companies, the push is for the *legal* *basis*, not the *technical* *means*, which suggests to me, it is ALREADY implemented.

              I have Peter Dutton and Pritti Patel on my "core threats to democracy" list. When a spook machine is turned against its people, they are a threat to the democracy they seek to protect. That happened when "Mastering the Internet" was funded and implemented, despite the initial rejection of the legal basis by Parliament. That happened when The NZ lot spied on Kim dot com, for copyright, realized it was illegal and did it anyway. And Dutton does a little double act, where police chiefs make press-releases that make zero sense, are unverifiable but that push Dutton agendas.

              You think mass surveillance is a threat to Chinese people in China, but somehow not in 5 eyes countries?

              Why? I don't think you're that naive, I think your a bunch of little men following orders. It's only one fake claim, or one backdoor, "what harm could that do?" asks the little man following the little order.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Data fetishists got to fetishise

                You think mass surveillance is a threat to Chinese people in China, but somehow not in 5 eyes countries?

                Absolutely yes. The Chinese gov has a reputation for being properly nasty (ask anyone from Xinjiang what they think about mass surveillance).

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: "govern"

        I'd openly argue that, in functioning democracies, the government is OUR business - they are *our* employees to hire or fire.

        The problem is that people forget this basic premise of civics, vote blindly based on singular or selfish motives or not at all, then turn their backs on the employees whilst still expecting them to perform their duties honorably and without question.

        Unless and until we hold our employees to the standards we expected when we hired them, don't expect them to behave to our [employer] satisfaction.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: "govern"

          I have argued for years that any system of voting - whether it's proportional representation or first past the post or whatever - should always include an option of 'none of the above'.

          At present, there is no simple mechanism to state at voting time 'you're all a load of clots and I want none of you'; something that might leave half the council seats unfilled (or half the parliament) might perhaps concentrate the minds of professional politicians to work to something that their constituents want, rather than just concentrating on party lines.

          Voting for no-one is *not* the same as not voting, and has an explicitly different message.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: "govern"

            > 'you're all a load of clots and I want none of you'

            Unfortunately this isn't how it works: A vote isn't some kind of endorsement, as in "I like this one", it's just a means to choose among a predetermined lineup of people.

            In other words, the point is to select which of those morons you'd rather entrust the steering wheel to, in the crazy hope he/she/it won't drive your country into the ditch. Lesser evil and all that.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: "govern"

              Except we don't have a "vote for the ruling party" system - we have a "vote for the local guy who has no effect on the policy system" where the local guys who do have an effect are safely in seats with no risk of them facing any democracy

            2. razorfishsl

              Re: "govern"

              it's a nonsense argument, it presupposes that the people you elect actually know & have control of the agencies.

              Just take a look at the current things the civil service is doing, with left wing propaganda that benefits less than 2% of the population, all it requires is one radical in a position of power.

            3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: "govern"

              Unfortunately this isn't how it works: A vote isn't some kind of endorsement, as in "I like this one", it's just a means to choose among a predetermined lineup of people.

              Well, yes, that's rather my point. It's a case (at present, in the UK) of either 'I can't be bothered' and not voting at all, or selecting the one you dislike least from a small group. If you are a party member you may have some small influence in choosing the candidate from your party.

              But voting none of the above is a clear message that none of the candidates are acceptable to you - and if none of the candidates are acceptable to a voting majority, then no candidate should be selected.

              I might go further: perhaps not voting should be an automatic 'none of the above'. I don't require everyone to vote, but I do like people to have some responsibility for their action, or lack thereof. "Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him' should be answered with 'Did you vote against him?'

              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                Re: "govern"

                > voting none of the above is a clear message that none of the candidates are acceptable to you

                Yes, I got that, but unfortunately it's an empty gesture because obviously they won't rush to find somebody else (where?), just because some voters didn't like the available choice, so in the end your "protest" vote is simply ignored.

                .

                > 'Did you vote against him?'

                Totally agree.

                1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                  Re: "govern"

                  I'm not so sure about that.

                  If the protest vote is bigger than the leading candidate - which with current voter apathy is almost a certainty - then there are going to be a lot of empty chairs. Even if the protest vote comes second or third, it's going to concentrate the minds of the professional pollies.

                  1. ThatOne Silver badge

                    Re: "govern"

                    > I'm not so sure about that.

                    I agree it depends on the country and how their government is chosen. Also in countries with several parties the choice is usually broader and more varied than in single-or-dual-party countries, but don't forget the lineup of potential candidates is not there to give The People an adequate choice, but just the result of a bloody fight among a mob of politicians in search of power and money. Voting for none is irrelevant because the whole point is to select and legitimize one of the champions who is in the list.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "govern"

            It nearly works that way in Australia, but not quite.

            I think a formal NOTA goes nicely with compulsory voting. You have to vote, but you can vote NOTA. I think that, whilst there's the potential for electorates repeatedly returning NOTA as the winner, the reality would be that after a few times of voting NOTA for the giggles, there would in fact be an equilibrium between electorates getting fed of having to keep turning up to the voting booths and the quality of candidates.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "govern"

          Unless and until we hold our employees to the standards we expected when we hired them, don't expect them to behave to our [employer] satisfaction.

          Employees cannot do the job the employer is asking them to do, if the employer is not giving them the means by which to do it. The employer is welcome to come try the job for themselves (that is what a democracy is afterall), if they can persuade the other shareholders that they could do it better.

          We (the electorate) are a really dreadful employer...

        3. paulr78

          Re: "govern"

          When did we last have a functioning democracy? I'd argue not since the early 1960s. To anyone under 40 I'd suggest accelerating your education on this topic so you don't waste your most productive years in a state of delusion.

    2. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

      Re: Dear government

      Ah yes, these people with the old 'if you've done nothing wrong, then you've nothing to hide' argument.

      To which my response is always the same...

      'If I've done nothing wrong, then there's absolutely no fucking need for you to invade my privacy at any time'

      1. Si 1

        Re: Dear government

        Ooh, I like that. I need to remember it the next time someone lobs the “nothing to hide” cliche out.

    3. SeniorCynical

      Re: Dear government

      Unless of course it's -

      " I've been the victim of a terrible crime / terrorist attack / Assault - and then it's this lazy f@cking government won't protect me and won't do anything about preventing crime."

      Grow up.

  2. UCAP Silver badge

    ... Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab for this project, nor overseeing its operation ...

    Which basically means that there is little chance of it ever becoming a reality. Industry is not going to pick up the tab (not to say the negative kudos) doing something that only the government wants.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

      More likely means that HMG will try to persuade behemoth snoopers to extend their "services" free of charge (possibly in return for the currently mooted promises of "deregulation"). Privacy? Hand me a dictionary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

        Interesting that HMG suddenly couldn't find WhatsApp messages about CovID contract deals or party invitations etc. it could be useful if we could decrypt and record all their chats for the public record... after all, nothing to hide nothing to fear....

        I also find it interesting how much effort they are willing to put into this (and yes child abuse needs to be prevented) but they don't seem to want to spend much on child poverty.....

        1. Infused

          Re: "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

          The irony is that Tory MPs use WhatsApp groups extensively to gossip & plot.

          1. Lis

            Re: "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

            @Infused

            You are wrong.

            Most M.P.s of All parties have stopped using WhatsApp.

            They have switched to Signal. For the self destruct messages perhaps? As I mentioned in a previous comment somewhere, almost makes you wonder if they know something that they are not letting on.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: They have switched to Signal

              which is commandable, until one of them was speared, or phished, or whatever, most probably by Russians, and some, no longer steaming pile of shit re. brexit 'strategies' was exposed. Unfortunately for the Russkies, nobody gives a (...) about brexit now, so they didn't get what they wanted. Must be sharper, more on the ball, comrades. I mean, yesterday's news is prehistory, so...

              1. BebopWeBop
                Facepalm

                Re: They have switched to Signal

                Fortunately for the Russians, they got much even if not all they wanted. TFTFY.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

          > I also find it interesting how much effort they are willing to put into this (and yes child abuse needs to be prevented)

          Come on, does anybody really think that encryption is the mainstay of child abuse? Most real child abuse happens inside a family and doesn't require anything electronic. The only ones using encryption are those who swap pictures, and they could easily go back to not using it, by using snail mail or hidden exchange places or some such. It would be a little more convoluted and not as convenient, but would it stop them? I don't think so.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

            I think you will find there was absolutely no child abuse before the publication of the RSA algorithm.

            Ok there was systematic child abuse inside the British establishment, but that was only because they had already invented public key encryption in GCHQ but kept it secret.

          2. Grogan

            Re: "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

            Well... they can't really stop people from using their own end to end encryption anyway. I could send you files right now such that government agencies wouldn't live long enough to break the encryption.

            1. BebopWeBop

              Re: "Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab"

              Appropriate legislation and you could be jailed for it. As with the current refusal to unlock an electronic device.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      industry is not going to pick up the tab (not to say the negative kudos) doing something that only the government wants.

      Who are you trying to kid? Industry will do as they're told. With or without laws or regulations;.

      "That's a nice tax shelter you have there google/trwiiter/facebook/apple/etc. It would be a pity if something was to happen to it."

      Of course that assumes anyone in the current set of cabinet numpties has the clue or the balls to say that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nah, it's NCSC's way of putting an idea into HMG so that HMG hopefully says we'll pay for NCSC's time to pursue it further.

      It's because NCSC hasn't got money to begin with (unlike big-brother GCHQ), so NCSC is alway hassling other government departments and outside companies for money in return for NCSC's time/kudos/etc.

      [I was a civil servant in the 'naughties...]

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Industry is not going to pick up the tab

      Really? Every network node your email/web/tiktok/snapchat/whatsapp/instagram/wibble-pling activity goes through gets to eavesdrop/analysis and sell all that data? And you are forced to allow it ?

      You bet they are going to pay for it !

      This message brought to you by Bob's used carpet, shovel and gaffer tape supplies (based on your reading history of BOFH)

  3. Roj Blake

    Only the Guilty?

    As only the guilty have anything to fear, I presume that Messrs Levy and Robinson would have no issue with me having a browse through the contents of their phones?

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Only the Guilty?

      That is my response. Sure - bork encryption. Hell, get rid of it in its entirety. For everyone with no exceptions - not politicians, not the military, not government, not banks - absolutely no one can use [unborked] encryption.

      Write it into law that it's a crime punishable with prison for anyone found breaching said law.

      Let's see how long they stick to the "think of the kids" and "you only have anything to hide if you're guilty" when they have to eat their own dog food.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Only the Guilty?

        That reminds me when militaries around the world used rare indigenous language speakers as a form of encryption.

        Given that over 250 languages are spoken in London alone, how are they going to go around that.

        Only English allowed?

        1. Robin

          Re: Only the Guilty?

          Only English allowed?

          You jest, but in a previous place where I worked, a manager became frustrated that he couldn't eavesdrop on some conversations between devs (presumably paranoia-driven) and declared "English only in the office please".

          Said office was in Gibraltar, where a large % of people speak Spanish. You can imagine how well that was received.

          1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

            Re: Only the Guilty?

            Manuel: ¿Qué?

          2. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: Only the Guilty?

            I once had a Swiss-German speaking colleague. He was on the phone and you entered the room, he would switch to Swiss-German. Nobody would understand a word.

            1. ShortLegs

              Re: Only the Guilty?

              More so as even Swiss~German speakers from the Canton of Sursee cant understand the Swiss~German speakers from the canton of Sempach.

          3. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

            Re: Only the Guilty?

            I was in a cafe in rural Louisiana with a French friend, speaking in French. The owner of the cafe came over to us and said 'None of that monkey talk here, you speak God's Language, or you leave'. Ironic, really, considering Louisiana's history.

        2. MrBanana Silver badge

          Re: Only the Guilty?

          I believe in the WWII Pacific theatre that Native American Indians were used to relay massages between ships and naval command.

          1. dogcatcher

            Re: Only the Guilty?

            I believe in the WWII Pacific theatre that Native American Indians were used to relay massages between ships and naval command.

            No, massages would have been provided by locals, no Native American Indian would have been exploited in that way.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Only the Guilty?

            I believe that was Inspector Clouseau.

          3. ITS Retired

            Re: Only the Guilty?

            That would be the Navajo Code Talkers.

      2. Oglethorpe

        Re: Only the Guilty?

        How about starting with the politicians and security services proposing the measures? After a 10 year trial, we can discuss expanding it to others.

      3. dave 81

        Re: Only the Guilty?

        Except of course, the politicians exempted themselves from the snoopers charter. Tells you what is really going on here.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Only the Guilty?

      As only the guilty have anything to fear, I presume that Messrs Levy and Robinson would have no issue with me having a browse through the contents of their phones? .... Roj Blake

      One imagines that MPs are terrified of what would be found out about them and their proposing shenanigans should their WhatsApp and Signal and Telegram communications be monitored rather than their being granted an immunity/exemption from snooping by the UK’s own Secret and Security Services.

      Many would tell you they should be at the top of any leading list of likely candidates to be victimised by errant abuse and misuse of that very particular and peculiar privilege.

      One wonders what MI5/MI6/GCHQ really think of that arrangement if it so easily and quickly can lead to wholesale chaos with parties in conflict and opposition. Common sense and a greater wisdom would dictate that they totally ignore the prohibition and discover all that is necessary for a true picture of events be produced and directed for subsequent daily media presentation and virtual realisation.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Only the Guilty?

        "One wonders what MI5/MI6/GCHQ really think of that arrangement if it so easily and quickly can lead to wholesale chaos with parties in conflict and opposition. Common sense and a greater wisdom would dictate that they totally ignore the prohibition and discover all that is necessary for a true picture of events be produced and directed for subsequent daily media presentation and virtual realisation."

        I would imagine they would completely ignore it, just as they did the law for ordinary joes.

        Then when they need to use something incriminating they disguise it's source. This has been the practice since the interception of Ultra in WWII.

    3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Only the Guilty?

      would have no issue with me having a browse through the contents of their phones?

      ThIs iS dIfFeReNt!

    4. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Only the Guilty?

      As everyone is now aware of "spycops" infiltration and subversion of legitimate protest groups e.g. environmentalists, anti nuclear weapons etc. (and lets not get into abuses such as having relationships with the people they were infiltrating)

      Do they seriously expect us to believe that its only kiddy fiddlers & terrorists they will be interested in? Scope creep will be instant

      FFS I remember being monitored & photographed by UK authorities decades ago, as a law abiding citizen (bar the occasional spliff at student parties), for peacefully protesting at a speech given by a South African diplomat (back in the days when SA was white apartheid state). *

      This was when anti SA feeling was quite mainstream worldwide (although Thatcher government at the time called the ANC terrorists, which was not a very nuanced view) - various sports boycotts had been running for ages, many countries had krugerrand bans etc.

      * also filmed, not at a protest, but at a talk given about whether Falklands war being a "surprise" was due to bad political decision making given that lots of intel on the surge of reclaim the Malvinas sentiment in Argentina but no UK response in terms of increased naval presence in the area.

      Another event where members of the public interested in political affairs likely to attend but treated as potential enemies of the state, FFS,

      Probably filmed at many other far busier events, those 2 just happened to be attended by relatively small numbers of people (not in London) so easy to spot the observers with less bodies around.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Only the Guilty?

        > Do they seriously expect us to believe that its only kiddy fiddlers & terrorists they will be interested in? Scope creep will be instant

        Scope creep? Why, nobody does or will care about "kiddy fiddlers & terrorists", the only goal here is to keep tabs on whatever endangers your authority and position: Opposition, journalists, unruly people daring to question the status quo and/or pose a threat to our corporate friends' profits, and so on.

        But since they obviously can't say that, they have to use some consensual bogeyman.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    WTF?

    What, again ?

    I thought they had just proposed a law to make the telecoms guys responsible for being able to intercept before encryption.

    Why are they flogging this dead horse again ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What, again ?

      Seem the law been delayed for a while.

    2. TimMaher Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: dead horse

      Because they are “bestial, necrophiliac, flagellants”. As per one of my comments several years ago.

  5. dvd
    Unhappy

    I think that recent events have shown that the authorities really don't spend a lot of time concerned about the children.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Though they may spend rather too long thinking about them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oooo... shiny tractors!

      1. BebopWeBop

        Were they new tractors?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, they would say that

    wouldn't they?

  7. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Quite apart from online...

    <suggest>Underpants have been used in an attempted terror bombing, so it's essential that we start inspecting everyone's underpants</suggest>

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

      Re: Quite apart from online...

      Ugh, don't even joke about it, there's already creepy politicians in the US wanting to inspect the contents of kids' undies in case they're trans.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Quite apart from online...

        I think we've reached the point when mandatory psychological examination should be required for anyone putting themselves forward for political office.

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Re: Quite apart from online...

          There's the theory that if you're putting yourself forwards for policitial office you've immediately ruled yourself out as being unsuitable.

          1. Lon24 Silver badge

            Re: Quite apart from online...

            Yep - I'm a fan of the jury system. Pick people at random. Maybe require them to do a basic test or two to weed out the extreme nutters and intellectually challenged. On average you would probably find a more representative and even more competent crew than our current legislators.

            I mean if you trust them, as we did, to make the right call on people's lives when we had capital punishment - we should be able to trust them with lesser stuff now.

            As an example the Royal Statistical Society did a test on our current bunch of MPs to test their basic numeracy. Let's just say a considerable number wouldn't be able to understand the answers. Frightening when they end up on relying on their version of 'common sense' rather than be able to take account of the expert evidence.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Quite apart from online...

              "I'm a fan of the jury system. Pick people at random."

              I vaguely remember on jury trial. Accused was a hospital worker. Petty thefts of patients' ' property started when he was put on the ward. Some property was marked with a powder. He wasn't caught with the property on him but he did have the marker. Thefts stopped when he was removed from the ward.

              Not guilty.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Quite apart from online...

                I understand the frustration, but the standard of guilt is "beyond reasonable doubt", not "no smoke without fire". CPS were pushing their luck going to trial if that's all they had.

            2. veti Silver badge

              Re: Quite apart from online...

              "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill.

              If you think politicians are bad, I can only assume you never talk about politics to strangers. You would not believe what some people believe.

              1. Blank Reg Silver badge

                Re: Quite apart from online...

                Before your are allowed to vote you should be required to pass a test to prove you are competent enough to vote. imagine how different politics would be if politicians didn't have to pander to the average idiot to get elected, I expect most wouldn't even run for office as they would have no chance of winning

                1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
                  Unhappy

                  Re: Quite apart from online...

                  That has been tried in the USA. Unfortunately it relies on the honesty and integrity of everyone who is responsible for registering voters and checking their competence. For example,

                  Question: "Who was the first president of America?"

                  Correct answer (for your supporters) "George Washington" https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/george-washington/

                  Correct answer (for your opponents) "John Hanson" https://sites.google.com/site/georgewashingtonnotfirstprez/website-builder

                  So then the school examinations were used as being independent of political meddling. Which led to the amusement of Prof I. N. Herstein's* head of Department having to state in a letter that he had achieved the requisite level of education in order to register to vote.

                  Watch the section in the film 'Selma' where a Black lady attempts to register to vote, only to be denied when she is unable to name all of the judges in the area.

                  Or, just remember that Boris Johnson, Tony Blair, Jacob Rees-Mogg, etc. all got degrees from Oxford or Cambridge, but Dennis Skinner (aka 'The Beast of Bolsover') did not. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Skinner)

                  There are always difficulties with who gets to vote, and, indeed on boundaries of constituencies

                  * Author of a popular university textbook on Algebra: "Topics in Algebra" John Wiley & Sons, 0-471-02371-X

                2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

                  Re: Quite apart from online...

                  a test to prove you are competent enough to vote

                  There is a famous gedankenexperiment on the topic. Pick a contentious issue, formulate a yes/no question, run 2 referendums: one among the general population, another among a large number (1K?, 10K? whatever) of the most intelligent, the most competent, the best educated, the most reasonable people chosen by the most appropriate method (details don't really matter).

                  Possible outcomes:

                  1. Same answer in the 2 referendums -> intelligence, competency, education, and reason make no difference. One possible explanation: maybe the people are not so dumb after all? Another: maybe those most suitable ones are not so exceptional? There are other possibilities, too.

                  2. The answers are different -> the above qualities do matter, but get lost in the democratic process. Now, who do we trust to devise the selection rules to disenfranchise all but the most suitable? The same people who voted differently from the majority of the population on the divisive issue in the experiment?

                  Difficult. Should we run a referendum on which outcome is better?

                  1. ThatOne Silver badge

                    Re: Quite apart from online...

                    > Pick a contentious issue, formulate a yes/no question, run 2 referendums

                    All for naught. The only thing influencing somebody's vote is: "Does it potentially affect me?". If it does, or might do it, or somebody said it might, all people, no matter their education, will vote to preserve their interests.

                    So the only issue politicians wanting to be elected care about is to seem to pander to the most voters' interests, whatever those might be.

                    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                      Re: Quite apart from online...

                      ThatOne: "The only thing influencing somebody's vote is: "Does it potentially affect me?""

                      And here I was hoping that people would vote for the general benefit of the world, humanity or even just their country, rather than specific self-interest.

                      1. ThatOne Silver badge

                        Re: Quite apart from online...

                        You forgot the "Sarcasm" icon...

                        (In the remote case you're actually serious, I'm really, really sorry... I mean, just look around. I too believed in my youth, a long time ago, that humans are reasonable beings, fundamentally good and striving for betterment. But I was cured quite brutally.)

                      2. TimMaher Silver badge
                        Coat

                        Re: self interest, an old joke.

                        A very old, very British joke:-

                        People who read The Times run the country.

                        People who read The Telegraph think that they run the country.

                        People who read The Grauniad think they should run the country.

                        People who read The Mail are married to those who read The Telegraph.

                        People who read The Mirror are married to those who read The Grauniad.

                        People who read The Sun don’t care who runs the country providing they have big tits.

                        Sorry guys.

                        1. BebopWeBop

                          Re: self interest, an old joke.

                          I think you forgot 'The Financial Times' - the people who own and really run the country.

                    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                      Unhappy

                      "Does it potentially affect me?".

                      An actual test of this has (supposedly) been done. Described in the series "The Power of Nightmares"

                      Only 2 groups of people always voted for their own self interest over everything else

                      1)Psychopaths

                      2)Economics students

                      Other groups were (on occaisions) willing to put the benefit of the group (or society as a whole) over their own self interest.

                      An interesting demonstration of people voting against their best interests were the car workers who voted leave in the Brexit referendum.

                      Turkeys really can be persuaded to vote for Christmas.

              2. EnviableOne Silver badge

                Re: Quite apart from online...

                Churchill also said "Representative democracy is absolutely the worst form of government, except all those other forms of government we have tried from time to time"

                in other words, the system is not perfect but its better than what came before

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Quite apart from online...

                Gyles Brandreth makes the comment that, in his time as MP for Chester, he began to grow tired of the electorate and their pettiness... only to discover the feeling was mutual to the next election

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Quite apart from online...

              "Yep - I'm a fan of the jury system. Pick people at random. Maybe require them to do a basic test or two to weed out the extreme nutters and intellectually challenged. On average you would probably find a more representative and even more competent crew than our current legislators."

              Being more competent than our current legislators sets a #very# low bar. And you seem to have overlooked that most jurors are so stupid, they couldn't even come up with an excuse to get out of jury duty.

              Trusting juries in the good old days of capital punishment didn't work out all that well. Many innocent people got put to death. Which still happens in the Land Of The Free. Today's jury outcomes are little better: OJ was innocent, the Birmingham Six were guity, etc.

              1. JimboSmith Silver badge

                Re: Quite apart from online...

                I often get canvassed on my doorstep by representatives of local politicians before elections. Usually they have no idea what I’m like and are in for a bit of a shock. I ask what the politician’s position on a random and unlikely subject. You should see the look of terror on their faces when they realise they have no idea what the position could possibly be. The last one to bother me was asked about what their candidate’s position was on tartrazine in foods.

                1. WereWoof
                  Devil

                  Re: Quite apart from online...

                  Aternatively ask their position on whether DHMO should be banned . . . .

              2. BebopWeBop

                Re: Quite apart from online...

                Well \sanctimonius-on some of us didn't try considering it an opportunity to both learn something and maybe do a service \santimonious-off

                My two weeks of jury service was interesting and the jurors took it seriously. One not guilty verdict (with some regret the majority feeling was that the bar steward had got away with it based on a technicality, one guilty and well substantiated.

                An anecdote not data, but given that Juries are not interviewed, close to the best you can get to real observed behaviour.

            4. R Soul Bronze badge

              Re: Quite apart from online...

              "Frightening when they end up on relying on their version of 'common sense' rather than be able to take account of the expert evidence."

              Sometimes that can be a good thing. Expert evidence isn't always truthful or correct.

            5. OhForF'
              Devil

              Last continent system

              Can't we adopt the system used in "The last continent" according to Sir Pterry?

              "'We put all our politicians in prison as soon as they are elected. Don't you?"

              "Why?"

              "It saves time."

              1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Last continent system Or Ankh Morpork

                I refer you to the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Havelock Vetinari's firm belief in the appropriateness of the 'one man one vote system' of governmental 'democracy'.

                Explained thusly: "I am the man, I have the vote".

                Later elucidated as "Because I say so." *

                *(In 'Making Money' IIRC.)

                1. hammarbtyp

                  Re: Last continent system Or Ankh Morpork

                  In another book, there is a town called Escrow where people line up to have there blood sucked by vampires

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Last continent system Or Ankh Morpork

                  In the 1930s Oswald Mosley wrote a manifesto for the BUF - if it had won an election majority at Westminster.

                  1) ban opposition parties and the general electoral process.

                  2) MPs could still represent constituencies but would only be allowed to debate selected issues.

                  3) Whatever Parliament decided could not overrule the Leader's decisions.

                  4) Leader was for life and ruled by decree.

                  Boris Johnson has shown that would work - all you have to do is promise your party's majority MPs that they would have their job and perks as long as they wanted.

                  Wait for Liz Truss to follow that same path before she loses the next General election.

              2. JimboSmith Silver badge

                Re: Last continent system

                Have an upvote for the Sir Pterry reference.

                Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?'

          2. gryphon

            Re: Quite apart from online...

            If memory serves that was Douglas Adams theory from the foreword to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

            No idea if it was original or not but certainly makes sense. :-)

            He also had the idea that about voting to make sure that the wrong lizard didn't get into office. I'm sure he wasn't thinking about any of our honourable members there.

            Other alternative is 'The Voter' I think it was called by Isaac Asimov.

            One person per electoral cycle talks to a computer which then decides every single elected official.

            All depends on the algorithm I suppose.

            1. FrogsAndChips

              Re: Quite apart from online...

              Other alternative is 'The Voter' I think it was called by Isaac Asimov.

              It was called "Franchise".

            2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Quite apart from online...

              The major problem - one of the major problems - for there are several - one of the many major problems with governing people is that of who you get to do it. Or, rather, of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

              To summarise: it is a well-known and much lamented fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

              To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should, on no account, be allowed to do the job.

              To summarise the summary of the summary: people are a problem. And so this is the situation we find. A succession of Galactic Presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palaver of being in power that they never really notice that they’re not.

              And somewhere in the shadows behind them, who?

              Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to, can be allowed to?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Quite apart from online...

          "I think we've reached the point when mandatory psychological examination should be required for anyone putting themselves forward for political office."

          I think you meant to type firing squads, not psychological examination.

        3. Alumoi Silver badge

          Re: Quite apart from online...

          Along with an IQ test.

        4. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Quite apart from online...

          I'd suggest that they participate in a game of Soviet roulette first.

          (same thing as Russian roulette, but with a Tokarev TT 33 instead of a Nagant M1895)

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Quite apart from online...

      Airport body scanners.

  8. longshots

    Here we go again...

    .....In their latest paper Levy and Robinson argue that this isn't a major issue, since non-governmental organizations could be used to moderate the scanning of personal information. This would avoid the potential abuse of such a scheme, they argue, and only the guilty would have something to fear.

    "Two notorious characters from the British security services" must be the only people on the planet that think "potential" abuse can be avoided. Room 641A, plus countless other examples make their premis laughable.

    And, of course, they always separate the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: terrorists, drug dealers, child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and organized crime. If they lumped them all together the dramatic effect is lost.

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    What are they trying to hide?

    Never mind the man behind the curtain. Look over here.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who are they trying to con ?

    Having no Encryption won't solve child porn, nor will it help against organised crime or terrorism.

    If one avenue becomes closed, others will be used.

    I mean, stealing national secrets with a usb drive smuggled out in a short (coffee cup, lip balm, pack of smokes) who would ever imagine that that could happen to secure government, tempested and air gapped devices ?!?!

    Having regular snooping, or scanning of user data by a private company in the interest of 'national security' ???

    Come on, do they think we're all stoopid, and if they don't encrypt our data, how will it meet data protection compliance?

    Oh yes, we've got it covered, we'll use a physical key on the cupboard. :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who are they trying to con ?

      no encryption should certainly help organised crime... think how easy it would be to get intel on the next 'mark'

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Who are they trying to con ?

      I mean, stealing national secrets with a usb drive smuggled out in a short (coffee cup, lip balm, pack of smokes) who would ever imagine that that could happen to secure government, tempested and air gapped devices ?!?!

      Any competent organisation would have blocked USB discs by now...

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Who are they trying to con ?

        First find your competent organisation that has control over anything significant.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did I mention useless political posturing?...and perhaps a darker long-term goal?

    There are lots of people (and groups) who can implement private encryption before their messaging enters either a client or directly into a service provider channel.

    Then.....the service provider is to be made responsible for scanning the messaging for "illegal content". How would that work? Service providers get to set up an internal cryptography group? And since well designed AES (or samba, or chacha) ciphers are thought to be secure......to what end?

    Maybe the long-term STASI goals are actually:

    (1) Make private encryption (and the possession of encryption tools) completely illegal

    (2) Make service providers responsible for blocking any message that looks like encryption

    (3) Make service providers responsible for reporting anything that looks like encryption to "the authorities"

    But then "We do not seek to suggest that anonymity on commodity services is inherently bad....." Really?

    And all this before we start thinking about the mapping of end-points to specific real people:

    (4) The smartphone is a burner (no account registered, pay-as-you-go minutes bought for cash)

    (5) The email account is fictitious (say gmail authenticated with a burner phone)

    (6) The email account has an assigned "app password" so that software can do the heavy lifting (i.e. no GUI interface is ever seen by anyone)

    (7) The laptop and the email client is only ever used from a public wifi connection, never from a place of domicile

    Yup......the privacy argument says this is a piece of political posturing.....

    .....because anyone who wants to avoid ALL the downsides associated with the STASI scanning content can do so.....see above!

    .....and there's always steganography!!!

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Did I mention useless political posturing?...and perhaps a darker long-term goal?

      Quote: "These safety systems will be implemented by the service owner in their app, SDK or browser-based access,"

      OK, so how long would it take for the scumbags to start using some other "service" then?

      As usual with these things, it's only designed to catch the honest crooks.

  12. Cereberus

    Google* Golden Opportunity?

    since non-governmental organizations could be used to moderate the scanning of personal information and

    Her Majesty's Government has no intention of picking up the tab for this project, nor overseeing its operation

    Company x is now going to monitor all encrypted communications, since the government will not oversee the operation it will be an entirely private company affair - think of all the additional data a company such as Google* could get for marketing opportunities as a result, which would of course be acceptable as their revenue stream for doing all this work.

    They definitely would NOT abuse it in any way of course.

    * Other companies are available to abuse your personal data

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Someone’s creeping; round the corner.

      Hi Mack, this is Google.

      Our decryption bot spotted a message that said you have left your knife on the sidewalk.

      Would you like to buy another?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google* Golden Opportunity?

      since the government will not oversee the operation it will be an entirely private company affair

      Most likely an opportunity to shower some corporate sugar daddy with taxpayer money.

  13. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Surveillance

    Why stop at private communication? We have the technology to install cameras and microphones in every home.

    1. Roj Blake
      Big Brother

      Re: Surveillance

      As most domestic abuse and child abuse takes place in homes, having telescreens that transmit as well as receive would definitely stop crime

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Surveillance

        "telescreens that transmit as well as receive"

        What, smartphones?

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Surveillance

          Intelligent walls...

          1. Shooter

            Re: Surveillance

            Smart TVs...

    2. monty75

      Re: Surveillance

      And we're installing them ourselves at our own expense

    3. gryphon

      Re: Surveillance

      There was a book or story written about that but I can't remember by whom.

      Basically it was illegal to be out of view or hearing of a govt. owned camera or microphone whether at home, in the street or in a vehicle.

      Even the brothels had them.

      1. Snow Hill Island

        Re: Surveillance

        It was a prediction of the future. Pity the author got the date wrong by about 38 years...

      2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Surveillance

        well managed brothels have them

    4. hplasm
      Big Brother

      Re: Surveillance

      "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

      People who live in glass houses dare not cast aspersions...

  14. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Common Purpose

    They are simply lying. They want to get rid of encryption, so that they can obtain data points to calculate a factor in your social credit score.

    Did you send a photo with a BBQ you've been doing in your garden? Oh you supposed to reduce meat in your diet! We know that from your connected health data. That's minus 20 points for you and your coming salary will be programmed to no longer work on meat products. If you buy sugary products your salary will be set to expire in month's time.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Common Purpose

      UK central bank digital currency

      Economic Design: The Behavioural Effects of Programmable Money

      If you Google a central bank name and CBDC you will see that every country penetrated by WEF is working on this.

      Overton window is moving steadily.

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    No paper of this nature should be given credence unless its authors are prepared to expose themselves in the way they'd expose others: they should include all their online credentials for banking, shopping, email and everything else.

    If they do include such details then the paper shouldn't be given credence as the authors are either outright liars or stupid.

  16. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "These safety systems will be implemented by the service owner in their app, SDK or browser-based access,"

    So, BrowseBork 2.6 will have the new-fangled SmutMonitor(tm). Ok, I'll just use BrowseBork 2.5.

  17. veti Silver badge

    I always have the same response when this nonsense comes up. "If you think I've been trafficking in this material, send a goon squad to sieze my hardware. Once you've got it, you should be able to decipher anything on it. That's fair enough, it's no different from what governments have been doing for centuries.

    "If, on the other hand, you don't have any evidence to back up a warrant for that, then GTFO. Your suggestion is to drastically reduce the barriers and costs of snooping on me, and I see absolutely no reason why any person of goodwill should support it."

    1. monty75

      They don't even have to decipher anything. Just ask for your password and when you refuse, lock you up under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). S.49

  18. JustSomeBloke

    Does anyone have a suggestion?

    Borking encryption is a really daft idea, with endless reasons against it.

    That said, I’m not keen on criminals either.

    Genuine question - does anyone have a credible idea what could be done, or is this simply a trade that society has to make?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does anyone have a suggestion?

      @JustSomeBloke

      False dichotomy: choose between:

      (1) Encryption

      (2) Criminals

      People (all people, including criminals) are responsible for their actions.

      Obviously criminals will attempt to hide their actions, so that they avoid responsibility.

      The criminals might do this in any number of ways.....

      ......why pick on "encryption"?

      Just one more reason (do we need more?) why this debate is just empty posturing!

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Does anyone have a suggestion?

        Also most criminals don't use any encryption, because police won't catch them regardless...

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Mike Richards

    Why this? Why now?

    To become a technical director at GCHQ you have to be smart, really smart - possibly one of the smartest people in the country. And here we have two of them putting their name on a paper that is nothing more than a rehashing of lazy ideas going back decades.

    Why on earth are they flying this particular kite? They must know it is stupid and unworkable, but they publish anyway.

    The only answer must be that ministers (who are certifiably dumb) are planning yet another attempt at breaking modern society.

    1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

      Why on earth are they flying this particular kite?

      They must know it is stupid and unworkable, but they publish anyway.

      Why does a stage illusionist perform certain actions with great flourish? To divert attention away from other actions happening simultaneously.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Defence of the realm

    WTF is going on here?

    GCHQ is supposed to be doing defence of the realm stuff - spying on the enemies who want to kill or destroy us with WMDs and suchlike. What on earth has that got to do with child abuse or mass surveillance of everybody's phone?

    Last time I looked, it was the police and not spies who were in charge of catching and prosecuting paedophiles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Defence of the realm

      From their website “Misson” page:

      Serious & Organised Crime - Reducing the social and financial harm that serious and organised crime causes to the UK

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Defence of the realm

        "Serious crime" being defined as crime which doesn't laugh.

  22. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    “people seeking privacy aren't suspects”

    Officially, that is.

    Move along citizen, move along.

  23. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    It seems to be an automatic knee-jerk reaction amongst humans to be absolutely aghast that humans have mouths and ears. How *DARE* humans have the ability to communicate. Something Must Be Done.

  24. Ken G Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Let's pilot this, see if it works

    Start with UK government ministers* and run it for a few years, see if it reduces pornography and sexual assault before putting it to a vote on rolling out to the general public.

    *including ministers of state, parliamentary undersecretaries of state, whips, leaders of the houses etc.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Let's pilot this, see if it works

      "including ... whips"

      Steady on there, old chap! How's a fellow who likes pinching another fellow's callipygien* derriere going to get a job in government if you let that sort of thing out?

      See https://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/national/20252450.pm-didnt-know-specific-claims-chris-pincher-giving-whips-job/

      *(Callipygian comes from the combination of the two ancient Greek words for "beauty" and "buttocks")

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: “whips”

        I don’t think it was Pincher @eclectic.

        I think that @ken was referring to actual whips; across those beautiful buttocks.

  25. Jaybus

    Reads like a paper proposing a perpetual motion machine

    It is clear that there can be no compromise. Data is either encrypted or it is not. No matter in what way the encryption algorithm is borked, criminal hackers will eventually find the bork. Borked encryption is exactly equivalent to no encryption at all. Actually, it is worse, a false sense of security. It is also clear that most online services are not viable without encryption. Basically, we either have unborked encryption or we pull the plug and stop using the internet. So like a perpetual motion proposal, their paper is entirely based on the false assumption that borked encryption is even possible. I wonder if that lot has written a paper about curing a headache by cutting off the head.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes us sound more like China every day. But the government have proven they can brainwash people repeatedly to do their bidding over recent years so if it came around again I’m sure they can get their media mates to make a storm out of it. Won’t be much tech left in the country though as most of us will need to emigrate to a free country.

  27. Velv
    Facepalm

    What we need is for a company to produce an App that does exactly what they're asking. It encrypts to an extent, but has a back door that the company actively use to monitor the communications of its users.

    Users know up front they are being monitored, and exactly what content is being looked for and flagged to the authorities. If you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear using that App, and by using that App your friends and colleagues get some reassurance you're not breaking the law (at least not through that App).

    I think it might attract half a dozen users before it dies a death...

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      And then force the people who demanded it (MPs, CongressCritters, heads of inteligence agencies, etc) to use it exclusively "to ensure fitness for purpose".

  28. EnviableOne Silver badge

    UN Declaration of Human rights Article 12

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    They all signed up to it, its up to them to abide by it

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: UN Declaration of Human rights Article 12

      But it's not arbitrary if everybody has to bend over, right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UN Declaration of Human rights Article 12

      it is one of the benefits of Brexit to be able to ignore international treaties

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    only the guilty would have something to fear

    Or the innocent that find themselves accused because the AI thinks it has found something 'naughty', for which they have no explanation... or a 'feeble attempt' at explanation that fails because 'only a guilty person would do that'... or an explanation that sounds plausible but is 'statistically highly unlikely'

  30. DS999 Silver badge

    Child porn existed before the internet

    Even if every communication was legally required to be in the clear or encrypted only with something the police could crack, and the police had the means of looking at it all to make sure you weren't trading in child porn (or illegally using encryption they couldn't crack) it wouldn't eliminate child porn.

    Worse comes to worse they'd just go back to how they used to trade it, via mail. Are they going to require all mail be sent in transparent envelopes to remove that possibility?

    1. Infused

      Re: Child porn existed before the internet

      The US Post Office photographs the outside of every envelope sent: 160 billion letters in 2013.

      1. jwatkins

        Re: Child porn existed before the internet

        Were they told it was an x-ray photograph?

  31. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Given how

    leaky, bug ridden and insecure windows is, I doubt very much the spies/plod/council officials looking for people who let their dogs shit on the grass and dont clear it up* actually need to bother with breaking encryption.

    Its us linux types that must be upto no good, using an OS they cant browbeat the creators into inserting a backdoor, being immune to many common problems such as viruses and malware and thus denying them a chance to put their spyware on our machines.

    Plus we tend to use full disc encryption and various other methods such as backups to make sure our data is secure.

    yes ... find your linux users and its 90% certain they are upto no good (especially the ones that dont pay a good capitalist company for the right to rent their software)**

    * this is true RIPA was brought in for exactly the reasons listed, child porn, terrorism ,other serious major crimes.... and was used by councils for such jobs as checking recycling bins, and seeing if parents had sent their kids to the right school....

    ** wheres the satire icon?

  32. Doctor Tarr
    Pint

    They saw it coming

    Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell & Yevgeni Zamyatin we salute you.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: They saw it coming

      Ayn Rand approves

  33. Maestairs

    They could well have access already ?

    If the government had a method of reading private communications how would you expect them to behave ? They would probably scream and shout asking for a method to be provided to them . They would issue papers arguing for such access, they would prime MPS to launch bills to get access. They would go to extreme lengths to make it clear they did not have access........

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They could well have access already ?

      ..... funnily enough, the exact same reaction if they DIDN'T have access...

  34. localzuk Silver badge

    It just moves

    As has been shown to be the case when you install CCTV in crime hotspots, it just moves to another, unmonitored place.

    Bork encryption in mainstream apps, and criminals will move to their own apps, as it doesn't take much time to create your own, using readily available open source software.

    The reality is the same as every time they bring this up, the goal is not dealing with child abuse or terrorist messaging. It is another mass surveillance tool. Gotta slurp that data.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: It just moves

      It can be seen to create a market for devices that claim to circumvent spies : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANOM

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      I left my bomb is in my other pants. Soz.

      "..and criminals will move to their own apps, as it doesn't take much time to create your own..."

      And that kind of arrogance is what the security services are hoping for. Because the chances are you will botch it in some way that their experts can penetrate. For example, here was a recent story on Mega screwing it up. But you can look at any pro app, and the chances are they've had issues - and may yet have issues only the security services know about.

      With most software, the proof is in the pudding. But crypto is different. It may seem to work. But you can't be certain until it has survived an attack by a state actor. You'll never know if it has passed. And you will only know it has failed when your door is broken down at 3am and you're put on trial for suggesting politicians who try and ban crypto are idiots.

      1. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: I left my bomb is in my other pants. Soz.

        It isn't arrogance. Why do you think they are so intent on forcing the big apps to back down on encryption?

        Do you think Signal has been cracked by a state actor? That's an open source tool, but all indication at the moment is that is has not.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I left my bomb is in my other pants. Soz.

        @Brewster's_Angle_Grinder

        Quote: "...until it has survived an attack by a state actor..."

        OK....maybe GCHQ can try this for size. It's a polite message to Ben Wallace. Plain text required here on El Reg this weekend....or not!!

        *

        yxEVa3mVylC5YfWJ4P41ot2D6FKHg7i5QtorMH41inMt0poj8HYnSFybkniFOxUXMtWzQFKxWnuT

        MzwJSf2pQhCvWdStY54JCXALqtiFY3850HKjEpMDMD8PulmjODy10Bu1MduTcxWrSjUjCVCLG7qH

        2DmFORwHar8Ry1MTuduZCTqtmfOPkbaViDkt2lyN8zEHERMjul4boRwDs38DcXK3c5CzapwpCX2F

        IJo7YNQHwvMf2DQzIDQJEt8JApSJyfu5I3YjadWrmBgNaHIXQlqHCtUVylqn2LORkl6LqrUNSbUN

        8Z0TwNMbALwXUbi3IdIte7cPCr69kZ0hOlwL8bulM9eHqFUl8FIrUrUlajcrUnSpgjiLC3KjoRYV

        8pAnMPKxqRGXozWrux6v2Vaf8f2rebyj0z4bk3eX0z4byZcHqdEf6N2BkFeBy5QFUxs72tcvITmb

        WjcdyFoRmH8z0TKfUd2xufMvwLQXG9YJc1QxA9MnmPaNKjE343mV4RMf6lCzmtk7GHkFknUj0H65

        OrilObalulApslATE3Ex6Lghsd0lYRaxcfm9MJk38xoLYTcl2H4FA36LU98FGv6Ba32Nwpyfsz2f

        w3S5m7GTwviL05ipQLS3sVupAXmbKfiHOh4Helixmn29KhQpSxgPsj4ReX8t0vUzW387YTAlu1Ct

        mD23o9uHMF8nqXANwb4tUZAJSVgJofSzw5OxgXaTG7ObIj2zkRsLGvcXcTUz81OTETI5mHE7Ituh

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        *

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I left my bomb is in my other pants. Soz.

          Every time there is an article on encryption, you post this. Why?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I left my bomb is in my other pants. Soz.

            @AC

            It would appear that the point is about FB, WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, etc., etc:

            a) These service providers don't have a monopoly on "secure encryption"

            b) Citizens can arrange for their own encryption, before messages enter any public channel

            c) ....so the advocates of "client side scanning" or backdoors in "secure" channels....these advocates are wasting their time

            Of course, if someone can provide a decryption of the AC-provided message, then it's clear that the AC isn't trying hard enough!!!!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I left my bomb is in my other pants. Soz.

        It's not arrogance - you can do all that without actually inventing your own crypto. Many open source and audited solutions exist that you could plug in... As long as you know you control the encryption path, you're set.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can tell it’s BS

    It involves politicians

  36. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Two notorious characters ...

    "... from the British security services have published a paper that once again suggests"

    Perhaps it's about time that someone keep an eye on the sorts of things that they are writing.

  37. StrangerHereMyself Bronze badge

    Leave well enough alone

    Why can't they just leave this alone? Most child molesters will eventually fall through the cracks anyway. Why do we need mass surveillance to try to prevent this?

    There seems to be a deep suspicion of governments towards citizens communicating in private. My guess is the government isn't content with just identifying suspects but wants to surveil the population en-masse by looking for keywords such as "bomb", "jihad" and "attack." They may also want to monitor the "temperature" of the population to predict the probability an uprising.

    Let's face it the European intelligence agencies have historically always been targeting their own populations to quell popular discontent.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      <s>Leave well enough alone</s> FFS Change it ASAP/PDQ

      Let's face it the European intelligence agencies have historically always been targeting their own populations to quell popular discontent. .... StrangerHereMyself

      And have always spectacularly failed to have any great positive effect in preventing further abusive actions which more than just suggests that agencies are in charge of and using failed intelligence.

      And furthermore, if one assumes that all manner of present means of global surveillance can permit command and control over future remote party operations, rather than presuming that is the presently aimed future goal for an overarching and overwhelming unilateral command and control, one surely has to accept and agree that the current universal conflict and chaos is the resultant product of their intelligence and their intelligence agencies use ...... and that is certainly, in any language, systemic abuse supporting endemic misuse and vice versa.

      Use something/anything else is a more than just a good plan to effectively change things, is it not? It is plain and simple common sense, a little something which manifestly appears to be missing in fraudulent circles and agencies widely presumed to be in possession of the activation of greater intelligence.

      Quite clearly, evidently, they are not.

      J’accuse.

  38. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Encrypted only with something the pigs can crack?

    So if I sent a digitised signal from my radio telescope and they didnt have the super computer and associated department to make an image of their favourite doughnut (with sprinkles) I could be locked up with a bunch of kiddie porn fans?

  39. sebacoustic

    Privacy

    >> it should be possible to deploy in configurations that mitigate many of the more serious privacy concerns

    this literally means that it is not possible to mitigate _all_ of the more serious privacy concerns.

  40. Snowy Silver badge
    Joke

    Criminals have children too

    Wont someone think of them too.

  41. Teejay

    Conspiracy theory (?)

    The EU is basically doing same, at the same time.

    This of course is a coincidence. Everything else would be a conspiracy theory.

  42. Tom Paine
    Facepalm

    Just like ID cards...

    ...and AI, it's an idea that comes around every 15 years or so.

  43. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    The war of attrition

    They keep coming out with reports like this to try and normalise what they're asking for.

    Almost similar to the "repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it", the intention is to make backdoored encryption the norm with the populace.

    That's also, of course, why they cite child abuse and terrorism etc.

    The end goal of all these reports and studies is to get to a point where anyone sticking up for encryption is vilified by the public as a paedo.

  44. I Am Spartacus
    Mushroom

    Hello Genie

    Would you mind getting back in to your bottle?

  45. TimMaher Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Perhaps...

    Perhaps they posted the paper so that El Reg* would write an article about it.

    Then they track all of the comments and flag each commentard as required, depending on what they write?

    *Other, supposedly “technical”, journals are available.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps...

      Perhaps they posted the paper so that El Reg* would write an article about it.

      Then they track all of the comments and flag each commentard as required, depending on what they write? ....TimMaher

      There's a lot of ifs, buts and maybes and vulnerabilities to exploit and share in perhaps then they track all of the comments and flag each commentard as required, depending on what they write, with itself in turn being almightily dependent upon an interpretation of what may written and whether they be right or wrong in their limited understanding of anything peculiar or particularly strange they be reading/seeing/hearing/failing to rightly fully comprehend.

      But there is no doubting such is an easily available viable option to learn of much knowledge/information/intelligence they may very clearly be lacking because it is totally unknown and novel to them.

      Extremely potent and disruptive and increasingly dangerous and deadly top secrets that very few folk have any knowledge of, generously freely spilled across a multitude of deep and dark wild wide webs, are the stuff of everlasting nightmares for some, whenever the chance to buy relatively inexpensive silence with the withholding of remote third party evidence/proprietary intellectual property is missed and/or shared in aliens fields and foreign lands with a grateful competition or raging opposition.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its a good smoke screen. Anyone who thinks the NSA and by extension GCHQ don't have some way to break AES fairly easily is kidding themselves. Why would anyone trust the very agency responsible for breaking communications telling everyone to use specific algorithms to encrypt date?

  47. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    And note. They want the ISP's to do the work

    'Cause frankly they can't be a**sed to.

    TOTC my fat backside.

    Think of Cardinal Richleau

    "Give me six lines from an honest man, and I'll find something with which to hang him."

  48. Mostly Irrelevant

    There are only two types of encryption. Encryption that's very hard to crack and encryption that might as well not exist. Lawmakers don't seem to realize that sometimes there just isn't a way around certain technical problems no matter how much they moan and cry about it.

  49. steviebuk Silver badge

    "If you object...

    ...to our white paper then you must be a pedo."

    This is exactly why they keep using this bullshit "Think of the kids" argument in the hope it silences people objecting.

    Cunts.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clipper chip

    "virtual crocodile clips"

    Clipper, it's you again ? Where have ya been, all this time ?

    "We acknowledge that for some users in some circumstances, anonymity is, in and of itself, a safety feature,"

    The department of stating the bloody obvious just called and will sue for plagiarism.

    "Levy and Robinson think this is a fixable problem. More research is needed."

    The department of magical thinking just called, and they will sue also for plagiarism.

    Seriously, those people are paid to state this load of bollocks ? Why not pay them only *when* they have the solution ?

  51. Cav Bronze badge

    "Just keep in mind that no matter the cause they try to peddle, people having to resort to this hackneyed "children" cliche are always disingenuous, and clearly have a agenda they can't admit to."

    Meanwhile, in the real world, it is perfectly possible for people of good conscience to have views that differ from your own; views that you disagree with but about which others are entirely genuine. I'm in favour of encryption and privacy. I take great care of my own. However, I can understand the frustration of those whose role it is to fight crime. Encryption does make it harder. It is entirely correct that the discussion continues. The accusations and hyperbole from the extreme opposition is ridiculous.

    Cue the down votes from those who can't engage in rational discussion.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > I can understand the frustration of those whose role it is to fight crime. Encryption does make it harder

      I don't dispute that. What I am saying is that "crime" is not built on encryption, not any more than on any other tool. You can commit crime just as easily without it.

      Now to get back to our case, pretending encryption is the main reason children get abused is ridiculous and disingenuous, I rest my case.

  52. Blackjack Silver badge

    In other news:

    https://www.theregister.com/2022/07/27/weak_data_protection_helped_chinese/

  53. Dave 15 Silver badge

    its all bullshit

    Several things make it bullshit

    First the country is not rife with billions of kiddy fiddlers all chatting via social media apps about what they are doing to someones kids.

    Second when there is evidence of grooming and other unpleasant behaviours it is ignored - plenty of cases of that with media celebrities, politicians, rich and famous, members of the church and it seems maybe even royalty, sort those out with the evidence that is there rather than taking a tilt at imagined windmills

    Third the security services are there to protect the UK, they would be better off sorting out what is going on in russia and china and making it clear to our bone headed politicians that while china and russia are both massively rearming and invading other countries it is not a good idea to further cut our puny military, not a good idea to make us more and more dependent on imported technology and equipment - particularly from china, taiwan, usa. It is also not a good idea to be exporting kit to russia that is directly used in their drones to destroy kit we have sent to ukraine.

    These people are there to protect us, until they are seen to do that job with the information that is freely to hand then giving them more ability to snoop on the innocent is just not required.

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