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Encryption 12 May 2021

Internet Society: UK Online Public Safety Bill is trying to legislate the impossible – a safe Internet without strong encryption

In the Queen’s Speech on 11 May 2021, the UK Government said it wants to “harness the benefits of a free, open and secure Internet”. It also asserted its commitment to online safety for all, especially for children. These are valid goals, but they cannot be achieved without strong, reliable encryption.

With its draft Online Public Safety Bill, the UK government is trying to legislate the impossible – a safe Internet without strong encryption – in the face of clear and consistent technical analysis saying that it cannot be done [1],[2].

Encryption technology keeps you safe: it secures your transactions, preserves your confidentiality, and in a world of connected objects, it protects your physical safety. Weakening, bypassing or removing encryption puts everyone, including children, at greater risk: it exposes their communications to third parties, and it deprives children of secure lifelines to help and advice.

Anyone advocating for encryption to be bypassed, removed, or omitted must show that doing so would not create points of access that put children and adults at risk of fraud, exploitation, and physical harm. This is simply not possible: there are no “safe back doors” to encrypted communication, and those calling for them cannot stop them from being discovered and misused.

The most effective way to protect the safety and security of citizens – of every age – is through uncompromised, end-to-end encryption services, supported by strong encryption policies.

[1] Breaking Encryption Myths: https://www.globalencryption.org/2020/11/breaking-encryption-myths/
[2] Keys under Doormats: https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/97690

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