Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

British Prime Minister Pledges to Ban Encrypted Messaging Services

Rich Trenholm, CNet:

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to tighten laws surrounding the encryption of electronic communication, potentially targeting services such as WhatsApp, Snapchat or Apple Messages. He asked Monday whether we should “allow safe spaces for (terrorists) to talk to each other.”

Cameron was discussing security measures in the wake of events in Paris last week, where gunmen attacked the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people. In the interest of disrupting communications between terrorists, Cameron pledged that if re-elected in this year’s general election, he intends to ban encryption that cannot be read by security services.

(Emphasis mine.) We don’t allow safe spaces for terrorists to talk to each other; we allow safe spaces for everyone and anyone to talk to each other.

What happened in Paris was absolutely tragic; there is no question about it. But it simply wasn’t the case that a lack of intelligence was what allowed these attacks to happen. There was loads of intelligence available, according to Steven Erlanger and Jim Yardley of the New York Times:

“These guys were known to be bad, and the French had tabs on them for a while,” said the American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid complicating a delicate intelligence matter. “At some point, though, they allocated resources differently. They moved on to other targets.”

[…]

“The problem we face is that even though there are not that many radicalized Muslims in France, there are enough of them to make it difficult to physically follow everyone with a suspicious background,” said Camille Grand, a former French official and director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, an independent Paris group.

“It’s one thing to listen to the phone calls or watch their travel, but it’s another to put someone under permanent physical surveillance, or even follow all their phone conversations full time for so many people,” he added.

Then there’s the outrageousness of Cameron’s statement, flying in the face of all that we hold dear in a free and just society. Glenn Fleishman:

I just love how politicians pretend privacy is not a fundamental human right when they claw so hard to protect their own.