Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

EU seeks quantum cryptography response to Echelon - und neue Kryptodebatte V 3.0 in Sicht

[Quntenkryptographie ist noch nicht mal richtig praxistauglich, da kommt schon gleich die naechste Key-Escrow-Debatte um die Ecke ...]


EU seeks quantum cryptography response to Echelon

Monday, May 17 2004 @ 03:11 PM GMT By Philip Willan, IDG News Service

The European Union is to invest 11 million (US $13 million) over the next four years to develop a secure communication system based on quantum cryptography, using physical laws governing the universe on the smallest scale to create and distribute unbreakable encryption keys, project coordinators said Monday.

If successful, the project will produce the cryptographer's holy grail -- absolutely unbreakable code -- and thwart the eavesdropping efforts of espionage systems such as Echelon, which intercepts electronic messages on behalf of the intelligence services of the U.S., Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

"The aim is to produce a communication system that cannot be intercepted by anyone, and that includes Echelon," said Sergio Cova, a professor from the electronics department of Milan Polytechnic and one of the project's coordinators. "We are talking about a system that requires significant technological innovations. We have to prove that it is workable, which is not the case at the moment." Major improvements in geographic range and speed of data transmission will be required before the system becomes a commercial reality, Cova said.

"The report of the European Parliament on Echelon recommends using quantum cryptography as a solution to electronic eavesdropping. This is an effort to cope with Echelon," said Christian Monyk, the director of quantum technologies at the Austrian company ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH and overall coordinator of the project. Economic espionage has caused serious harm to European companies in the past, Monyk said. "With this project we will be making an essential contribution to the economic independence of Europe."


Monyk believes there will be a global market of several million users once a workable solution has been developed. A political decision will have to be taken as to who those users will be in order to prevent terrorists and criminals from taking advantage of the completely secure communication network, he said.

"In my view it should not be limited to senior government officials and the military, but made available to all users who need really secure communications," Monyk said. Banks, insurance companies and law firms could be potential clients, Monyk said, and a decision will have to be made as to whether and how a key could be made available to law enforcement authorities under exceptional circumstances. "It won't be up to us to decide who uses our results," said Milan Polytechnic's Cova. ::