My email to UK Home Office regarding plans to weaken encryption

Below is the email I sent to the UK Home Office on 16 May 2017, in response to the consultation into the UK Government’s draft technical capability notices. For more information, check out the information made available by the Open Rights Group (tap here).

These “Technical Capability Notices” seek to weaken the UK public’s access to encryption technologies which would, I believe, put the liberty and security of every UK citizen at risk.

To the UK Home Office,

 

To undermine the privacy and security of the communications of UK citizens not only undermines our rights and freedoms, but also introduces an ever increasing risk to our security and our society going forward. To do so, would be negligent in the extreme.

 

The UK government should listen to those in the field who understand how modern technology and encryption works. People like Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. People like 14 of the world’s pre-eminent cryptographers and computer scientists who, in 2015, authored a paper concluding that that British government cannot demand special access to encrypted communications without putting the world’s most confidential data and critical infrastructure in danger. See:

 

http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/97690/MIT-CSAIL-TR-2015-026.pdf

 

Undermining encryption would be entirely counterproductive in terms of safeguarding the critical infrastructure of the UK. It would also come at a cost to the economy and would, in this interconnected global world, ultimately prove unworkable. There will always be ways by which those who seek to do us harm may access encrypted channels of communication, outwith the jurisdiction of the UK government.

 

The current path that the UK government is taking towards ever more authoritarian practices of mass surveillance, the undermining of privacy and the attempted weakening of encryption are extremely concerning and totally unacceptable.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Dan Bright

UK Government’s IP Act Consultation Is a Sham

I recently received an email from the Open Rights Group, informing me of the shameful way in which the UK government has conducted its so-called consultation into the Investigatory Powers Act – a disgraceful piece of legislation that undermines the privacy and freedoms every UK citizen has a right to expect.

The Open Rights Group called upon concerned citizens to write to the Home Office to express their views. My email to the UK Home Office follows here.

As a citizen of the United Kingdom, I demand that the Home Office fulfil their duty to run a full and thorough consultation of the Investigatory Powers Act Codes of Practice.

 

It is vital that this consultation provides enough information to ensure that those consulted understand the issues and can offer informed responses.

 

I would like the opportunity to respond, however I am not legally trained and therefore am unable to wade through 400 pages of legal text in order to offer a well informed analysis of the substance of the Codes.

 

I would like the Home Office to publish fully detailed information about all that is contained within these Codes of Practice and the reasons for its inclusion. I understand that the Codes have been altered since the Home Secretary showed the draft Codes to Parliament. I demand to know exactly what has changed, and why.

 

I would like a full consultation to be re-run, over a three month period, as to allow lawyers, civil society, and other interested groups to suggest ways in which the Codes may be amended.

 

I am extremely concerned by the government’s pursual of bulk powers of surveillance, its attacks on encryption, and its attempts to legalise hacking of UK citizen’s electronic, communication and computer systems, by agencies of the state in the absence of very tightly controlled judicial oversight. Such intrusion into UK citizen’s devices and private communications should be legal only in extremely highly focused and narrowly defined circumstances, under the authority of an explicit, case-specific judicial warrant.

 

The way in which the Investigatory Powers Act has been rammed through Parliament is an utterly shameful indictment of our political system, whilst the substance of the legislation completely undermines the right to privacy that we must expect, respect and demand in a free and democratic society.

 

I fully understand the need to fight terrorism in an appropriate way. However, undermining the fundamental rights of all UK citizens is neither appropriate nor balanced. For all the grand talk of standing firm and remaining true to “British values” in the face of terrorist attacks, legislation such as the Investigatory Powers Act – and the apparent disdain for due democratic process as evidenced by this shoddy “consultation” – is tantamount to surrendering fundamental liberties of every UK citizen to the will of a relatively small number of criminals who seek to do us harm. Legislation such as this empowers these individuals to force change upon our society; it hands them a victory.

 

This situation is an utter disgrace. I am appalled by government’s abysmal lack of understanding of technology and its refusal to take wise counsel from those in the field who actually know what they are talking about (Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, to name but one).

 

I am a citizen of this country and I demand that my voice be heard. I refuse to accept the outcome of the aforementioned consultation – it is a sham. The government is tasked with defending the rights and liberties of the citizens of the United Kingdom, but as shown here, is abjectly failing in that duty.

AlienBeez: Buzz ‘n Hive – Nectar Mix

AlienBeez: Buzz ‘n Hive – Nectar Mix

This is, without a doubt, THE best track you’ll hear this year! It’s a newly released classic, from way back in the year 2010!

It is a veritable feast for the ears; an astonishing arrangement of audio audacity; a musical roller coaster for the soul, whisking you on a wondrous journey to the outermost reaches of your innermost sanctum!

Or, it may just be some pap I knocked together 7 years ago when I’d nothing better to do …

Either way, it makes a zesty phone ringtone!

Enjoy – but try not to become too overcome with emotion, unless you have a teardrop-proof keyboard [dev note: remember to insert Amazon affiliate link for a teardrop-proof keyboard. Need to monetise this shit somehow].

Tap the little play button (right end of the player) to play the tune. Just PLEASE don’t press the yellow button marked “honey”. Thanks!

AlienBeez: Buzz ‘n Hive – Nectar Mix


 

My response to Tim Berners-Lee’s ‘fake news’ warning

I recently noticed Tim Berners-Lee’s comments on ‘fake news’ circulating in the media. His comments have been reported by many media outlets – here is link to one such article, by New Scientist magazine:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2124201-web-creator-tim-berners-lee-speaks-out-on-fake-news

Tim Berners-Lee’s comments have met a degree of criticism by many, who cite fears that they’re motivated by a desire for traditional establishment power-structures to retain control of ‘the message’, and to silence the voices of ‘ordinary people’ who may hold views contrary to the prevailing political consensus. Read more “My response to Tim Berners-Lee’s ‘fake news’ warning”

Docker security concerns persist

A couple of years ago, I played around with Docker, but ultimately decided against production deployment owing to the technology’s lack of maturity, combined with a host of security concerns.

Having recently been considering ways in which to distribute an open source web-app that I developed (for invoicing, if anyone’s interested!), this week I tested the Docker waters once again. Read more “Docker security concerns persist”