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[FYI] UK: "Encryption debate hots up "


             Wednesday, March 24, 1999 Published at 01:22 GMT 


             Encryption debate hots up 

             Companies like the Royal Mail want to be TTPs without key

             By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall 

             The UK government has come under renewed fire over its
             plans to provide a legislative framework for electronic

                            The minister responsible for the IT
                            industry, Michael Wills, was ambushed by a
                            show of hands supporting a one-month
                            extension to a consultation deadline, when
                            he spoke at a packed conference on

             Mr Wills told a sceptical audience of academics, civil
             liberties groups and industry experts that the 26-day
             period allowed for comments on the Electronic Commerce
             Bill proposals should help people to focus on the issues
             with greater clarity.

             Real solutions for real people

             A joint task force of government officials and industry
             figures were given the same April 1 deadline to come up
             with an alternative to "key escrow" - a system which
             would allow law enforcement agencies suspecting serious
             crimes to unlock encoded data by gaining access to keys
             lodged with bodies known as Trusted Third Parties (TTPs).

             Key escrow has been condemned by civil liberties groups
             as a threat to the privacy of Internet users. Business
             leaders have described the proposal as expensive,
             impractical and likely to drive abroad billions of pounds
             worth of business in providing secure transactions.