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[FYI] (Fwd) Financial Times LEADER on RIP - "the UK government shoul

------- Forwarded message follows -------
From:           	"Caspar Bowden" <cb@fipr.org>
To:             	"Ukcrypto \(E-mail\)" <ukcrypto@maillist.ox.ac.uk>,
	"FIPR-AC \(E-mail\)" <fipr-ac@netlists.liberty.org.uk>
Subject:        	Financial Times LEADER on RIP - "the UK government should scrap this ill-considered bill in its entirety"
Date sent:      	Tue, 6 Jun 2000 00:33:13 +0100
Send reply to:  	ukcrypto@maillist.ox.ac.uk

9C&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=IXLZHNNP94C

Editorial comment: Online crime
Published: June 5 2000 19:17GMT | Last Updated: June 5 2000 19:23GMT

The UK government is succeeding in its aim of setting a global example
on e-commerce. Unfortunately, the latest example is of how not to
regulate this sector. Other countries, watching the way business
reacts to e-commerce legislation in the UK and Ireland, will be much
more likely to follow the lead of Dublin rather than London.

The Home Office insists the new measure, the Regulation of
Investigatory Powers bill, simply updates existing powers to tap
telephones. Covert surveillance is an important weapon in the fight
against serious crime. Unless law enforcement agencies have the power
- enshrined in the RIP bill - to intercept and decode encrypted
e-mails, criminals will be given a free rein online.

This is a powerful argument. But the bill that springs from it is
seriously flawed. Unless the government listens to the wide array of
RIP critics, it risks inflicting damage on business interests and
civil liberties alike.

The most immediate industry casualties of the bill are internet
service providers, who will have to offer a permanent interception
capability. The government has yet to decide what technology it will
impose. But the minimum running cost for a small provider is £9,400 a
year, according to a government-commissioned report. That alone could
encourage potential new industry entrants to go elsewhere.

But the RIP bill carries wider costs to business. It will allow state
officials to demand access to a private decryption key or to a plain
text copy of an encrypted message. In certain exceptional
circumstances - yet to be defined - only production of the key will

Disclosing a key could compromise the security of a whole network. But
it will be a criminal offence to warn any third party that the key has
been requested. The concern is about security. UK companies would face
potentially huge damages if the key got into the wrong hands, and
electronic instructions, such as money transfers, were intercepted by
a criminal third party.

The industry wants the government to indemnify it against such claims.
Instead, the government should prevent such claims occuring in the
first place. It could do worse than look to the example of Ireland,
where the new e-commerce bill will not allow law enforcement agencies
to require the disclosure of private keys in any circumstances.

Better still, the UK government should scrap this ill-considered bill
in its entirety. Cybercrime is a serious issue. But it is also a
global problem, demanding global solutions - the Home Office should
concentrate its efforts on the international arena.

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