There was a David Cameron who swallowed a fly

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It’s insane. And cryptography isn’t the half of it. Has no one from the security services mentioned that terrorists use CODES as well? Make it illegal for any communication to contain words that cannot be understood by Oxbridge-educated white men, that’ll solve that one. And words that are being used in a non-literal sense, just to be sure. Right, that’s terrorism defeated, what’s next?

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It’s a money-making scheme: take away the rights from the public and then sell it back to them. If you want to have crypto then you will have to have licences crypto. Someone has to issue the licences. Someone has to appoint the people who issue the licences. The snooping budget has been estimated at £2G/year. Bring in the snooper’s charter, and you get to influence who gets this contract. You spend more money, your department gets bigger, and you get closer to your knighthood.

The best bit of it all is all of this furious activity doesn’t have to do anything. It does not have any measure of whether it is working, or whether we are getting value for money. If you can’t find any terrorists then it must be working. If you can find terrorists then we need more snooping.

It’s politics. I don’t think any amount of logic is actually going to help.


It’s a safe assumption that any criminal who represents such an existential threat to the UK as to warrant these measures would be sufficiently motivated to seek out and install working software. Otherwise, the Snooper’s Charter is only proof against lazy and haphazard terrorists. Installing software isn’t rocket science.

As distinct from the security theatre we have in air travel, which inconveniences the public for the purpose of catching “threats” that are:

  • Easily detected
  • Minor (e.g. box cutters)
  • Not too much of a public inconvenience (e.g. knitting needles)

And then manages to fail more than 90% of the time anyway for “threats” worse than 120 ml shampoo bottles.

The key thing to remember is that these programs are proposed by elected politicians, and the one motive to rule them all for elected politicians is re-election. It doesn’t matter whether a policy works as long as (like austerity) it can be spun to appear effective.

In other words, the logic above is impeccable, but founded on a false premise. Nobody – or nobody who matters – cares if banning effective crypto will improve national security because national security is not the reason for banning effective crypto.

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I have to take issue with the argument, although I agree with Cory’s aims. Saying we can’t outlaw crypto because some people will break the law is exactly like saying we can’t control guns because criminals will break the law. It’s a tautology, and the same argument can be used against any law atall.

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Back when I was sysadminning a fast-growing network, in late 90’s/early 00’s, some of the machines were in France. That place used to be outlawing encryption. Did that stop me from making sure SSL is enabled in the mail software, and some other configuration details? Did I obey the French law or did I choose to do the right thing?

Been there, done that, now will have to do the same with the machines in UK. Big deal, I guess. I am quaking with fear of the British jackbooted thugs about as much as I did of the French ones.

Vigorous open opposition to the law is a good thing. The other side of the coin we must however not forget about, like with DMCA, is spirited and mass-scale civil disobedience; may be open, may be low-profile, your choice. Just, for the sake of our collective future, don’t obey!


Not quite exactly. There are key differences in the degree to which the two can be enforced and in how much the ban will impact essential functions.

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To extend the metaphor, we’ve already swallowed the fly that is encryption, and thus they’d have to force a spider down our throats to catch it.

Guns in, say, Canada, are not a normal thing to have, so having a spider spin webs to catch those particular flies can be done without anyone swallowing anything. Nothing’s wrong with having spiders; they’re quite handy at getting rid of the more pesky insects.

In the United States, on the other hand, where they have swallowed that particular fly, well, you’ve seen how difficult it is to make them swallow even the idea of gun control.

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