Many people might not know this, but every time you send or receive a message using iMessage or Facebook Messenger, that message is encrypted. To best understand how encryption works, picture a mailbox that has two keys – one that allows you to check for incoming mail and another that allows you to send mail out to family or friends. No matter how many copies of each key are made, they will never be interchangeable. In other words, the key for incoming mail can never be used to send outgoing mail and vice versa. In simple terms, encryption is essentially a privacy tool, used by applications like iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to ensure that your conversations remain protected from hackers and cyber criminals.
Sadly, the UK government may soon be moving forward with legislation that would effectively ban such encryption by forcing tech companies to build backdoors into their products. This would be like taking that same mailbox mentioned in the example above and creating a small, secret keyhole in the back of it, with the corresponding key belonging to the federal government. This key would have access to the entire mailbox, unlike the two other keys that only control incoming mail or outgoing mail.
The information was revealed in a leaked document obtained by the Open Rights Group. One rather extreme proposal included in the document states:
To provide and maintain the capability to carry out the interception of communications or the obtaining of secondary data and disclose anything obtained under the warrant to the person to whom the warrant was addressed, or any person acting on that person’s behalf, within one working day, or such longer period as may be specified in the technical capability notice, of the telecommunications operator being informed that the warrant has been issued.
Another proposal in the document says, “To provide and maintain the capability to disclose, where practicable, the content of communications or secondary data in an intelligible form.”
If these proposals are approved and implemented, technology firms would essentially be forced to include backdoor access in their products, thereby allowing governmental agencies to bypass the encryption and gain access to the entire device. In effect, the UK government is considering a total ban on encryption. (RELATED: NaturalNews exclusive: US government developing ultimate cyber weapon; Prime-factoring quantum computing makes encryption obsolete.)
The Independent reports that the proposal is currently being debated and discussed among members of the UK’s Technical Advisory Board, which includes BSkyB, BT, Cable and Wireless, O2, Virgin Media and Vodafone. Certain representatives from government agencies are also believed to be involved in the debate, including GCHQ and MI5. The Technical Advisory Board meeting will officially end on May 19th.
Jocelyn Paulley, Director at the international law firm Gowling WLG, brought up an issue that Americans have been debating since the year our country was founded. She said, “Balancing protection of fundamental human rights such as privacy, and the public interest in national security will always be a highly contentious area.”
If nothing else, the encryption ban that is being considered in the United Kingdom is proof that the debate over privacy and national security is one that is not unique to the United States. It is a universal conversation between the people of the world who don’t want to see their privacy rights slip away, and the governing bodies of the world who have an insatiable appetite for power and authority.
Ben Franklin once stated that those who sacrifice individual liberty for security deserve neither. This is absolutely true, and it may even be more relevant today than it ever has been. Liberty is a precious thing that once gone, is extremely difficult to get back. That’s why it is up to the people, whether they reside in the United Kingdom or the United States, to fight for it with everything we’ve got.