Privacy v Security

One of the trickiest problems of the modern age is finding the comfortable balance between Privacy and Security.

We all want to feel safe in our homes and whilst walking the streets in our neighbourhood. For most of use the seemingly every-present CCTV affords us some reassurance when in public but we draw the line at thoughts of having our text and email messages ‘snooped’ on by ‘Big Brother’.

In the ‘fight against terrorism’ the government want to introduce powers that would enable just that in the form of the so called “snooper’s charter“. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for government taking reasonable measures to ensure the safety and security of the British public but this is a thorny issue.

The government is not interested in the millions of messages passing between regular people each and every day. They are only interested in those communications used to conspire against the British public in the form of terrorist actions or criminal endeavours. However, terrorists and criminals know better to communicate in plain text and employ encryption to conceal there nefarious collusions.

And there is the rub. In order for the government’s Act to truly achieve its aim, the security forces will need a mechanism to decrypt messages. A common refrain of many is “Those with nothing to hide, have nothing to fear”, but this is a flawed assertion. We all have something to hide, and I am not suggesting skeleton’s in the closet. Millions of perfectly legitimate messages cross the Internet daily that employ the same encryption mechanism. They protect those engaged in e-Commerce (on-line purchased and banking).

By undermining the encryption of conspiratorial correspondence they are exposing a vulnerability in legitimate communications. Such as chink in the armour of e-commerce will undoubtedly, in time, be exploited by the criminal element to pray on the very same public the Act was intended to protect.

Note: Since writing this article I have covered the same subject in a longer post in Linked-In.

 

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