We already discussed here how the terror attacks in France are being used to justify increasing government powers of surveillance, particularly in the USA. In the UK Prime Minister David Cameron favours banning any form of messaging that intelligence services can't read. Encryption is the main way internet users secure their communication from snoopers and as such would be a prime target for Cameron.
Camerons comments became a target of ridicule on twitter and elsewhere. Here we have our 5 reasons why banning encryption would be crazy:
1. It's unenforceable
Banning encryption or forcing companies to give up their encryption keys wouldn't be taken lightly by the companies affected, large international companies such as Apple and Google are unlikely to give in and alter their security practices. As most of them are headquarted outside of the UK, the UK Government would have a hard time forcing them to comply. Smaller companies would suffer and it would be a serious blow to many start-ups in the UK.
2. Normal people suffer
Encryption is a powerful security method that isn't inherently evil, normal everyday people use encryption when shopping online, using online banking services and numerous other ways. Banning it to stop a few terrorists from using encryption means that millions of everyday internet users lose a huge amount of security. If the UK Government goes the other route of forcing companies to introduce a backdoor as occured with blackberry in India, it still undermines the effectivenss of secure encryption, as the backdoor could be exploited by hackers.
3. Banning encryption could help terrorists
Encryption keys are extremely difficult to hack, thousand of private individuals and companies use encryption for this reason and some of the most high profile hackings could easily have been prevented with proper encryption. An outright ban on encryption would only make it easier for cyber-terrorists to attack their targets.
4. Only countries with extensive censorship have similar bans
If the UK was to implement a ban on encryption they would join China, Russia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. There are only 13 countries that enforce a ban or limitations on internet encryption and the majority of them have extensive censorship regimes.
5. There should be more encryption not less
It's only recently that encryption has been rediscovered as a simple but effective way of securing the internet. Chat programmes like WhatsApp ensure the privacy of communications with encryption, big names like Google and Apple have rolled out encryption in different forms to improve their users security. Even the Internet Architecture Board has called for encryption to become the norm for all internet traffic.
Cameron has backtracked since his comments but it does appear an enhanced version of the snooper charter is being considered. It's proper name the communications data bill would allow the government to collect massive amounts of users data but was luckily never passed by parliament. The threat of the snooper charter has prompted more people to use security solutions like ZenMate.
We offer top quality security to our users, no backdoors, we use industrial level encryption and it's free. ZenMate is also based in Berlin, Germany and we operate under strict data protection laws, we don't track your usage so have nothing to give intelligence services.