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[FYI] (Fwd) Encryption key would lock up criminals
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- Subject: [FYI] (Fwd) Encryption key would lock up criminals
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- Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 19:01:44 +0100
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------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:37:45 -0500
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
From: Robert Hettinga <email@example.com>
Subject: Encryption key would lock up criminals
--- begin forwarded text
Date: Wed, 03 Mar 1999 16:09:34 +0000
From: Fearghas McKay <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Encryption key would lock up criminals
Reply-To: "Usual People List" <email@example.com>
The following provided by Yaman Akdeniz:
Tuesday, March 2, 1999 Published at 17:18 GMT Sci/Tech Encryption key
would lock up criminals Dr Ross Anderson: "Big business can look after
itself." By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
Cyber-criminals would be caught if the government introduced a system
where the keys to coded e-mail were voluntarily lodged with licensed
authorities, according to the UK National Criminal Intelligence
NCIS was one of the groups appearing before the House of Commons on
"Criminals are lazy, greedy and they make mistakes," John Abbott, NCIS
Director General told the Trade and Industry Select Committee, which
is hearing witnesses on electronic commerce issues.
"We are able to capitalise on this and we anticipate that a licensing
scheme would allow us to have some successes," said Mr Abbott.
Civil liberties campaign
Civil liberties groups are campaigning against "key escrow" - the term
used for lodging codes with a third party. They do not want it
included in a forthcoming Electronic Commerce Bill.
A long-awaited consultation paper on the bill from the Department of
Trade and Industry (DTI) is expected in the next few days.
Opponents argue the proposed voluntary licensing system where Trusted
Third Parties (TTPs) would hold the keys to encrypted data being sent
over the Internet would never be used by criminals.
But an NCIS spokesman, who declined to be identified, told the hearing
that just as criminals used telephones at every level for their
activities, so some would use the TTPs.
"We would prefer to have a mandatory licensing system because that
would be more inclusive," said Mr Abbott.
"I do recognise that we are moving into new territory, and this would
not be a complete answer, and if all that is on offer is a voluntary
scheme then that is better than no scheme at all."
Real time access
The Chief Investigations Officer of HM Customs & Excise, Richard
Kellaway, told the hearing that real-time access was needed to
encrypted data. Mr Abbott added that it was no use knowing three days
afterwards where a consignment of drugs had been exchanged.
He admitted that key escrow would not solve the problem of crimes
being committed on an international scale over the Internet.
"But I would urge the government to lead. Law enforcement agencies
throughout the world are extremely concerned with developments. We
anticipate the problem will grow over time and certainly the G8 law
enforcement forum are constantly discussing this and looking for ways
Businesses, as well as civil liberties campaigners, have voiced
concern at the possible proposals on key escrow, and the Post Office
stated its opposition at the hearing.
Jerry Cope, its managing director for strategy, said there were two
areas of concern: "If people feel this system makes them less secure
then they will not want to use it. We need to instil confidence.
"Then there is the additional cost of regulation and if it is greater
than in France or Ireland then business will go elsewhere. It is as
easy to send e- mail from London to Manchester via Paris as it is
direct from London to Manchester."
Mr Cope said there had been a lack of dialogue between business and
law enforcement agencies and he suggested a possible compromise.
Agencies would bear the additional costs of being able to extract
information from TTPs and would only exercise their powers when there
was a threat to national security.
The Post Office will announce later this month that it is launching a
Trusted Third Party service called ViaCode.
The final witness of the day, a leading encryption expert, Dr Ross
Anderson of Cambridge University, compared key escrow to the red flag
that had to be waved in front of the first motor cars to warn people
A week after the requirement was removed, there was the first road
traffic fatality. But no-one would suggest we go back to the red flag
today and the assumption is made by the police that 99% of those on
the road are good guys, he said.
He added that the police had a long way to go with computers to match
their current knowledge of the motor car. They had often had to call
in outsiders such as himself to help with encryption cases.
"There are many, many ways of attacking computer systems and
inevitably TTPs are going to be compromised," he said. "The role of
government should be protecting the consumer - big business can look
He said the best way forward in terms of legislation was the
Australian approach that simply recognised that electronic signatures
had the same force as manuscript signatures.
"Key escrow would have to be global to achieve its stated purpose, and
there is now no prospect of this," he said in an additional written
submission to the committee.
Tuesday, March 2, 1999 Published at 14:17 GMT UK Politics Internet
'will boost crime' Drug smuggling may be harder to combat in the
future The Internet may boost the ability of criminals to organise and
commit crimes in secrecy, MPs have been warned.
Mark Castell looks at how law enforcement can deal with new
technologyAn official of the National Criminal Intelligence Service
told MPs that in the future encryption technologies may enable
criminals - such as terrorists, drug smugglers, money launderers and
paedophile rings - to communicate with each other with little chance
Presenting evidence to the Commons Trade Committee, Mark Castell said:
"How encryption is implemented in the market place is the critical
issue, so far as law enforcement is concerned."
Concerns over law enforcement and public safety must be taken into
account before encryption technology "imbeds itself in society", he
Encryption technology spreading
The issue of encrypting messages on the Internet is becoming
increasingly pressing, the committee heard.
The development of e-commerce means encryption techniques are becoming
widely available as secure means of conducting transactions over the
Even relatively simple codes can take computer experts up to
half-a-day to break and as they become more widespread enormous
pressure could be placed on law enforcement resources.
NCIS Director General John Abbott told MPs he was in favour of setting
up a statuary framework to enable his organisation to deal with
The interception of information was an essential part of crime
detection, he said.
NCIS believes it essential to have the law updated in order to enable
it to access encrypted e-mails, albeit under tightly regulated
Although Mr Castell admitted that the present generation of criminals
were not computer wizards, he predicted that the next generation would
be sophisticated users of information technology.
A customs official explains the threat posed by encryptionThe Chief
Investigations Officer for HM Customs and Excise, Richard Kellaway,
stressed how important being able to intercept messages between
criminals was to their efforts to combat drug smuggling.
An official from his department added: "One cannot emphasise how
important it is to law enforcement to have a proper interception
"We estimate that 60% of our drug seizures are related to the
interceptions of communications."
"If we are not able to intercept communications clearly and in a
timely fashion then that is the risk that's posed to the nation."
--- end forwarded text
Robert A. Hettinga <mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org>
Philodox Financial Technology Evangelism <http://www.philodox.com/> 44
Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA "... however it may deserve
respect for its usefulness and antiquity, [predicting the end of the
world] has not been found agreeable to experience." -- Edward Gibbon,
'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'