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The director general of Britain's Security Service is arguing for "exceptional access" to encrypted messages, in the ongoing battle between authorities and technology companies, reports The Guardian.

MI5-Director-warns-of-exp-008.jpg
MI5 head Andrew Parker
MI5's director general has called on technology companies to find a way to allow spy agencies "exceptional access" to encrypted messages, amid fears they cannot otherwise access such communications.

Sir Andrew Parker is understood to be particularly concerned about Facebook, which announced plans to introduce powerful end-to-end encryption last March across all the social media firm's services.

In an ITV interview to be broadcast on Thursday, Sir Andrew Parker says he has found it "increasingly mystifying" that intelligence agencies like his are not able to easily read secret messages of terror suspects they are monitoring.
Parker goes on to say that cyberspace has become an unregulated "Wild West" that is largely inaccessible to authorities, and calls on tech firms to answer the question: "Can you provide end-to-end encryption but on an exceptional basis - exceptional basis - where there is a legal warrant and a compelling case to do it, provide access to stop the most serious forms of harm happening?"

The U.K. government has long argued that encrypted online channels such as WhatsApp and Telegram provide a "safe haven" for terrorists because governments and even the companies that host the services cannot read them.

Tech companies have pushed back against various attempts by authorities to weaken encryption methods, such as the FBI's request that Apple help it hack into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

Apple famously refused to comply with the request, and has since consistently argued against laws that would require tech companies to build so-called "back doors" into their software, claiming that such a move would weaken security for everyone and simply make terrorists and criminals turn to open-source encryption methods for their digital communications.

On the opposing side of the debate, Britain's cybersecurity agency has proposed that if tech companies sent a copy of encrypted messages and the encryption keys to unscramble them when requested following a warrant, this would allow them to prevent terrorists and criminals from operating out of sight without compromising encryption methods.

However, given that encrypted communication services like WhatsApp and Signal do not have access to private keys that would enable them to decrypt messages, a back door would seem the only alternative.

A spokesperson for Privacy International, a technology human rights group, told The Guardian that strong encryption kept communications safe from criminals and hostile governments.

"The reality is that these big tech platforms are international companies: providing access to UK police would mean establishing a precedent that police around the world could use to compel the platforms to monitor activists and opposition, from Hong Kong to Honduras," the spokesperson added.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: MI5 Argues for 'Exceptional Access' to Encrypted Messages
 
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Winni

macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2008
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Germany.
Yes. It's essential that a government and their intelligence agencies can spy on their own people...

Without privacy, there can be no freedom.
And in our digital world, without encryption, there can be no privacy.

"If you have nothing to hide, then you are nothing."
-- Prof. Dr. Shoshana Zuboff
 
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57004

Cancelled
Aug 18, 2005
1,022
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Parker goes on to say that cyberspace has become an unregulated "Wild West" that is largely inaccessible to authorities

I would argue the opposite. Intelligence agencies have enjoyed pretty much unlimited access to personal communications like they never had before. The Snowden leaks proved this in detail. They've been grabbing and cataloguing everything for over a decade.

Encryption breaks some of that but it only brings it back to the level it was before.

At least Britain can't push for these measures within Europe any longer.
 
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DoctorTech

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Jan 6, 2014
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Indianapolis, IN
The nerve of citizens to think they have a right to communicate with someone else without their government being able to listen in on them... who do they think they are? You know what else would help prevent / solve crimes? Banning curtains and blinds. Just think about how many crimes are committed in homes and hotels around the world because people can do things without being observed. If we give governments the ability to look into everyone's living rooms, bedrooms and offices we could cut down on terrorism and might even catch someone with child porn. It may cost everyone what little is left of their privacy but it would help fight terrorism /s
 
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jonnysods

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Sep 20, 2006
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Holy crap their justification is horrible.

I understand there is a lot of justification for this reasoning - but there is more justification for this not being allowed. With the amount of breaches against government agencies, my data is not safe in their hands, and I don't trust their intentions as far as I could spit them.

This is 1984 - one day they will demand surveillance in your home too!
 
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bsolar

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Jun 20, 2011
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The usual shortsightedness and technical ignorance, especially in the face of recent reports that mass-surveillance is very ineffective.
A National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program that accessed American citizens' domestic phone calls and text messages resulted in only one investigation between 2015 and 2019 despite costing $100 million
 
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DoctorTech

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Jan 6, 2014
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I challenge anyone who thinks this is a good idea to go to news.google.com, do a search for "officer arrested" or "agent arrested", and read the first 100 headlines in the search results. Then tell me again about how much safer we would all be if we would just allow law enforcement to have easier access to all our personal communications (I realize this particular article is about MI5 but all governments want the same thing).

Power corrupts and having access to every encrypted message / photo in cyberspace is simply too much power. The FBI has proven it cannot even be trusted with the power of the FISA courts as an FBI lawyer has already been caught tampering with FISA applications but they still want more power to get into encrypted devices and read encrypted messages. How about they spy on their own corrupt swamp rats instead.

 
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jonnysods

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Sep 20, 2006
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I challenge anyone who thinks this is a good idea to go to news.google.com, do a search for "officer arrested" or "agent arrested", and read the first 100 headlines in the search results. Then tell me again about how much safer we would all be if we would just allow law enforcement to have easier access to all our personal communications (I realize this particular article is about MI5 but all governments want the same thing).

Power corrupts and having access to every encrypted message / photo in cyberspace is simply too much power. The FBI has proven it cannot even be trusted with the power of the FISA courts as an FBI lawyer has already been caught tampering with FISA applications but they still want more power to get into encrypted devices and read encrypted messages. How about they spy on their own corrupt swamp rats instead.


Exactly - who polices the police? They can't even keep their own digital infrastructure safe against cyber breaches. Heck they can't even balance a budget, and they want to store and monitor our text messages?
 
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Tymmz

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2005
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governments have long lost my trust...why would anyone in their right mind grant them access to our communications?
 
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GrumpyMom

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Sep 11, 2014
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I saw a rumor (really) that the Queen had recently paid them a secret visit. Putting it all together, I’d say they just want to give Her Majesty a way to spy on Harry and Meghan now that they’ve gone Canadian!
 
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Supermacguy

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Jan 3, 2008
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These gov't types asking for access are only seeing tech through their jobs. It's sad they can't see the bigger picture or understand how encryption works in a larger scale.
"Get your heads out of your own box."
 
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Kabeyun

macrumors 68040
Mar 27, 2004
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We all know (or think we know) that noted Franklin quote about liberty and safety. And I agree. The problem is that evil doers can abuse that liberty, hide behind it. These days, the evil one can inflict (terrorism, mass shootings, cyber warfare) and the ability one has to hide (encryption, dark web) are unprecedented. If we are to stand for electronic liberty, we must be consistent about it. If a nut job shoots up a night club, we cannot then change our minds about “liberty” and whine about not knowing what’s on his iPhone or who he messaged on Facebook. We can’t have it both ways. If you want to test how you really feel about it, imagine your family member being murdered by a nut job with an AR-15, suspected contacts with a terrorist organization, and an encrypted iPhone. Really imagine it. Now what do you want? It’s not so simple, and be skeptical of those who offer simple condensations of complex issues (typically found posting anonymously in internet forums).
 
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kylew1212

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Oct 17, 2017
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Unfortunately it seems like it's only a matter of time until laws are passed to enable backdoors by ignorant lawmakers. I am not sure if they are unknowledgeable about how how this works (likely) or just want to continue the trend of unregulated spying (even more likely).

I hope somehow this can be prevented, but IMO its coming one day.
 
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ctdonath

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Mar 11, 2009
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Master keys get stolen & sold.

DVD encryption master key was revealed, printed on t-shirts.
BluRay encryption master key was revealed.
TSA luggage master keys were revealed, copies sold on eBay in 3 hours.

Flip side: unbreakable encryption is easily programmed.
Those who MI5 ostensibly want to read messages of can encrypt with little difficulty.

Why is England so he11-bent on becoming "1984"?
 
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