[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[FYI] The price of policing e-business


-------------------------------- CUT -------------------------------

The price of policing e-business  

By Jean Eaglesham and Carlos Grande  

Published: May 31 2000 22:59GMT | Last Updated: June 1 2000 07:59GMT  

John Smith sometimes gets e-mails at work from someone suspected of 
tax evasion. The police, armed with a warrant from the Home Office, 
demand Mr Smith hands over either the key that will allow them to 
decrypt the messages or plain text versions of them.  

If Mr Smith refuses, he faces up to two years in jail. If he says he 
has forgotten the key and a court does not believe him, he could also 
be jailed. If he complies and hands over the key, the police may be 
able to access all the e-mails sent on that system. If the police 
lose the key, the company's entire security system could be put at 
risk. But if Mr Smith warns his employer or anyone else about the 
police's request, he again faces a stiff jail sentence.  


The British measures are likely to have repercussions round the 
world. "The UK is acting as a stalking horse for an awful lot of 
other countries - most of the rest of Europe is looking at what 
happens here," says Peter Sommer, a research fellow at the London 
School of Economics.  

They also foreshadow debate in the US on the Cyberspace Electronic 
Security Act, currently before Congress. This legislation, allowing 
law enforcement agencies access to decryption keys, is expected to 
encounter tough opposition from privacy campaigners, even though most 
critics believe it is less draconian than the UK proposals.  


-------------------------------- CUT -------------------------------