How many governments are using the Paris / Charlie Hebdo attack as an excuse to increase surveillance or otherwise remove civil protections? In the UK the Tories certainly are. But PM Cameron’s proposals are idiotic – this piece in The Guardian is particularly blunt:
Cameron wants to ban encryption – he can say goodbye to digital Britain
Online shopping, banking and messaging all use encryption. Cameron either knows his anti-terror talk is unworkable and is looking for headlines, or he hasn’t got a clue
On Monday David Cameron managed a rare political treble: he proposed a policy that is draconian, stupid and economically destructive.
The prime minister made comments widely interpreted as proposing a ban on end-to-end encryption in messages – the technology that protects online communications, shopping, banking, personal data and more.
“[I]n our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”, the prime minister asked rhetorically. … This means that even in principle Cameron’s approach is darkly paradoxical: the attack on Paris was an attack on free expression – but it’s the government that intends to land the killing blow.
Terrorists must not be allowed to disrupt our way of life, we’re often told in the wake of atrocities. We must leave that to governments to do in the wakes of these attacks.
But it’s in the practicalities that the prime minister’s approach slips from draconian to dull-witted. There is no such thing as “good guy encryption” and “bad guy encryption”. The same encryption that protects you and me protects companies, protects governments, and protects terrorists.
If Cameron is proposing an end to encryption in the UK, then any information sent across the internet would be open for any company, government, or script kiddie with 10 minutes “hacking” experience to access. It would spell the end of e-commerce, private online communications and any hope of the UK having any cybersecurity whatsoever.
The response of Australia’s Abbot government displayed (of course) the same authoritarian bent. Coverage in The Age points out the futility:
George Brandis still struggling with metadata
While it is perhaps unsurprising, the Attorney-General’s latest attempt to use the Sydney siege and recent events in France as justifications for the government’s mandatory data retention laws is as distasteful as it is misleading.
The problem with citing France and Sydney as examples, apart from leveraging a number of tragic deaths for political gain, is that they are in fact fairly strong cases of why mandatory data retention may not be the critical necessity he asserts it to be.
Two other recent “acts of terror” similarly point to the same conclusion, namely the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 and the brutal murder of Lee Rigby in London the following month. In each of these four recent examples, the perpetrators were well-known to police and intelligence agencies. The Attorney-General quotes former ASIO chief David Irvine as saying that access to metadata is “absolutely crucial” in identifying terrorist networks. As these examples clearly show, identifying the perpetrators was not the problem.
In each case, it was rather decisions taken to not commence, or to cease, close surveillance of these individuals that arguably contributed to the failures of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent each attack.
Europe’s answer to France terror ‘attack on free speech’ is greater Internet censorship
Summary:After three days of terrorist attacks in the French capital, European leaders are pushing for stronger measures to crack down on online “extremist” content.
About half of Europe’s member states are pushing for greater online censorship powers in the wake of the terror attacks in France earlier this month.
In a joint statement, interior ministers from 11 European member states — including Germany, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. — expressed condemnation of the attacks, while stressing further cooperation between their law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Members of the European Union, along with a delegation from the U.S. government — including outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder — adopted, among other sentiments, a resolution to create a partnership of major Internet providers to report and remove material associated with extremism.
My guess is that the only reason that our own government hasn’t jumped on this bandwagon is that they are still on holiday. Expect to see Paris trotted out as an example next time they want to “justify” increased surveillance.