Re: Euro-move to key-escrow encryption


Sender: •••@••.••• (Christopher Long)

You may be pleased to hear of a news report in today's Daily Telegraph
(London 02-10-95):

    A European Commission plan to police the use of secret codes in
    electronic mail appears certain to fail.

    To detect pornographers and criminals, the commission is seeking
    legal powers to prevent people from using secret codes on the
    Internet which it cannot crack.

    Nature magazine says this would effectively end the Internet's
    status as an unregulated medium for the free flow of information.

    The plan would require any person or company encrypting e-mail
    messages to leave the 'secret keys' to read them in the hands of a
    law enforcement agency.

    But Dr. Peter Lammer, managing director of a supplier of encryption
    software said: 'This plan would never work because people wishing
    to evade it could legitimately use layers of encryption'.

    In France it is illegal to use any kind of encryption and police
    can arrest the authors of any e-mail that they cannot
    understand. But no one is known to have been prosecuted for this

Actually, I think there are two other good reasons why it should fail:

1)      Encryption or code is merely a language and so one would have to
legislate that a language which cannot be understood is illegal. How good
is  your understanding of provincial dialect Zulu? And what would the US
constitution say about banning languages?
2)      fuw37nfuamlopnngd3&990dhhennzz.0:)^$fRBH hhenm. Now did you
understand that last sentence? Was it an encrypted message or was it
rubbish? If the authorities know that it's a message and not gibberish they
must have had the means to decrypt it. If they can't decrypt it, how do
they know it's a valid message? If they were to try and prosecute anyone
merely for communicating unintelligible rubbish, most legislation, most
legislators and half the human race (notably politicians) would be

 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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