U.K. backs off plan to ban end-to-end encryption

Authorities in Britain have admitted they cannot ban end-to-end encryption without making private communications insecure [Financial Times], an outcome that implicates everything from bonking to banking. The effort, posed as a measure to protect children but plainly crafted to give police on-demand access to communications, will have to wait… at least until they forget the consequences1 explained to them and ram it through when the political opportunity presents itself.

The UK government has conceded it will not use controversial powers in the online safety bill to scan messaging apps for harmful content until it is "technically feasible" to do so, postponing measures that critics say threaten users' privacy.

In a statement to the House of Lords on Wednesday afternoon, junior arts and heritage minister Lord Stephen Parkinson sought to mark an eleventh-hour effort to end a stand-off with tech companies, including WhatsApp, that have threatened to pull their services from the UK over what they claimed was an intolerable threat to millions of users' privacy and security.

Parkinson said that Ofcom, the tech regulator, would only require companies to scan their networks when a technology is developed that is capable of doing so. Many security experts believe it could be years before any such technology is developed, if ever.

One of the amusing-yet-alarming characteristics of end-stage Tory governments is endless barking stupidity among cabinet ministers, so much so that sitting Tory Prime Ministers must spend much time managing it. Lately, though, the Prime Ministers are the loudest dogs, so it's a matter of speculation why the current pack backed off. The FT suggests they simply got rolled by U.S. tech companies, but it's also possible that they don't want the consequences1 to manifest just in time for a general election.

1. Private messaging becomes insecure for everyone except criminals and terrorists.