UK Gov't: Encryption Endangers Kids. Also UK Gov't: No, Encryption *Protects* Kids

from the take-it-to-the-Thunderdome,-regulators dept

What’s the greatest threat to children since the invention of contraceptives? Why, encryption, of course. Just ask (almost) anyone. FBI directors have pointed to device and end-to-end encryption as an aider and abettor in child sexual abuse. Government leaders from around the world have claimed the addition of end-to-end encryption to Facebook’s messaging service will result in millions of abused kids. Others who find the chanting of “national security concerns” just isn’t getting the job done have often chosen to lean on abused children to make their points (badly) about the “dangers” encryption poses.

The UK government is trying to regulate encryption into nonexistence. It doesn’t have the strength of character to flat-out demand encryption backdoors so it’s trying to apply indirect pressure to accomplish the same thing. Its efforts are being aided by an extremely manipulative ad campaign — one detailed here with righteous anger by Rianna Pfefferkorn. The ad flips the script on the sanctity of the home — one given ultimate protection from government intrusion — turning it into a black box where evildoers are free to sexually assault children. The shitty metaphor equates a home with curtains drawn to end-to-end encryption, turning privacy into secrecy while suggesting only criminals are interested in private communications.

But encryption is good for kids, argues none other than the… UK government???

The UK data watchdog has intervened in the debate over end-to-end encryption, warning that delaying its introduction puts “everyone at risk” including children.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said strongly encrypting communications strengthens online safety for children by reducing their exposure to threats such as blackmail, while also allowing businesses to share information securely.

Huh. Well, that severely undercuts the rest of the government, which has claimed repeatedly that encrypted communications only aids criminals. The narrative is that the innocent have nothing to fear from pervasive surveillance and unsecured communications. The most innocent of all are the children, who the UK government apparently feels aren’t worthy of strong device or communications security. The UK government — the ICO notwithstanding — is seemingly willing to feed the kids to the proverbial wolves in exchange for nominal law enforcement gains. The ICO, fortunately, is pointing out how the UK government will endanger children (as well as other at-risk groups) by regulating encryption out of existence.

“E2EE [end-to-end encryption] serves an important role both in safeguarding our privacy and online safety,” said Stephen Bonner, the ICO’s executive director for innovation and technology. “It strengthens children’s online safety by not allowing criminals and abusers to send them harmful content or access their pictures or location.”

That’s the salient point that almost always goes ignored by critics of encryption: whatever holes are created for law enforcement can be exploited by bad people as well. It’s not as though criminals steer clear of legislatively-mandated security flaws. They’ll abuse any opening, no matter its genesis. Pretending this won’t happen is an extremely popular form of denial — one exercised loudly and repeatedly by government officials who believe security tradeoffs should only negatively affect the largest group of stakeholders: the governed. After all, if they knew what was best for the nation (and the nation’s children), surely they would have been elected by now and busily foisting security flaws on their constituents.

Presumably, the ICO’s input will be ignored in favor of the UK government’s insistence that privacy and security are just tools of the criminal trade, rather than something that should be revered, protected, and strengthened by legislation. The fact that some criminals are getting away with something continues to irk those who seem irritated that the government is incapable of controlling everything. The Online Safety bill is just a naked power grab, brought to UK residents by legislators willing to expose their indifference for the public to everyone and their children.

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Comments on “UK Gov't: Encryption Endangers Kids. Also UK Gov't: No, Encryption *Protects* Kids”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'Not being constantly watched and tracked is a terrible threat!'

UK government: The children will be in great danger if it’s not possible for anyone with the proper keys to access every single scrap of information about them, up to and including their location in real time.

Skeptical individual: And what happens when that deeply personal and potentially dangerous information gets into the hands of those with less-than-good intentions, because it will if you mandate that vulnerability.

UK government: That is a price we are willing to (have the children) pay.

Few things wave the ‘We have no valid arguments or defense for our position’ flag quite so enthusiastically like ‘Think of the children!’

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Followed by assurances that of course no-one else will ever find and use that key other than them, why the very thought is downright silly and anyone bringing it up is obviously a criminal sympathizer who wants to use fear and play on the emotions of the good, law-abiding citizens who the police just super-duper want to protect with the key.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sense of smell

Well, if they already to it with marijuana.

Do you think they can smell child sex abuse from a car going the opposite direction at speed with the windows up?

Can they smell it if the odor is in the UK and not encrypted?
Can they then ticket the sex abuser via a text message?

I tried researching it and got caught by this guy:

I guess I’ll just have to go make a 5G call at the airport before one of my confidantes betrays me to Dan Ball from OAN.


Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sense of smell

"Do you think they can smell child sex abuse from a car going the opposite direction at speed with the windows up?"

Sure they can. The same way you people have historically been "able to tell" someones criminal inclination by measuring the bumps on their skull or how they similarly "could tell" the actor with the hooked nose playing a moneychanger would turn out to be the villain.

Nothing to do with biased preconceptions at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

The narrative is that the innocent have nothing to fear from pervasive surveillance and unsecured communications.

Better phrased as compliant and passive citizens have nothing to fear from encryption, while those who would change the objectives of government or the direction of society, by peaceful means, have everything to fear from surveillance.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Encrypted drives and Compliant Passive Citizens

Anyone who says "I have nothing to hide" please fill this out:

  1. Debit card # and PIN
  2. Code to open your car, office, home, and any alarm codes if extant
  3. Mother’s maiden name and all passwords you have saved unencrypted
  4. Full list of any traffic violations, civil blunders, or criminal acts you either committed, will one day commit, or already dealing with, including all those part that say how you f’d it up

If you want to frame it as "I have nothing to hide" provide the data you don’t need to hide.

Me – like papa poster, encrypt everything. Let God sort it out.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Peter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Encrypted drives and Compliant Passive Citizens

  1. Engagement ring before you propose
  2. Birthday and Xmas-presents before the event
  3. Your opinion on your partners butt size
  4. Your budget when haggling over a prize
  5. Your opinion on pretty much anything that might offend the other side
  6. The name of party & candidate you voted for

As for more serious information citizens may be entitled not to disclose to any government official who might ask, the justification we use to invade other countries are very inspirational. You know, when we topple evil dictators because they force their citizens to [followed by list of things our government thinks citizens of evil dictator’s country should not have to disclose. ]

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Enough with the children

Clearly the problem is that people in the UK are having children, and then failing to protect them. Rather than dealing with their own responsibilities, these people want law-enforcement, government, and private websites to nanny their kids.

If those who don’t want to parent their kid would just stop having kids … within 20 years none of their children would need that parental protection — that they don’t have — and then the rest of us wouldn’t have to hear about. Worked for China.

CAPS for emphasis and standing out… not yelling.

Thoughts about this article, attitude of irresponsible parents, and those who want to eat the dinner but not wash the plates:

  • end to end encryption is bad for children.
    Too hard to have children, not take care of them, and then blame everyone else in the world because… encryption.

  • child abuse, trafficking, sexual misconduct, underage selfies, school resource officers… these are all big societal costs, and will be avoided… when there are no more children.

I’m sorry the UK is a "Nanny State." Nevertheless, I offer a solution:

    or if you do
    or if you’re unable
  • GIVE UP YOUR KIDS and say "I can’t raise these kids… they play video games on the Internet, watch Twitch, IG, FB, and YT… and bad people encrypt things so I can’t watch what they’re doing… but I HAVEN’T TRIED and HAVE NO INTENTION of doing so."
  • Don’t petition law enforcement or the government to make up for your failure at your DUTY to parent the kids YOU CHOSE to have.

It’s great to have kids… just realize your DUTY as their parent is to keep them healthy and away from harm… until they can do so themselves. Cops, government, laws, schools, that helps… but the real job is at home. This has nothing to do with the value of encryption.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Enough with the children

The problem is not parents. The problem is the gov’t wanting access&control and using security and/or children as the justification. Parents have no say – "it’s for your own good". Also, this desire for control crosses political boundaries – this sort of stuff often gets all party support.

ECA (profile) says:

Antone know the 1% rule?

its the idea that if 1% are not affected it really dont matter that much.
And if these folks want the Whole world counted. The cops are abusing the kids more then the Child molesters.
7.9 billion est population of this planet.
If we can hit 800,000,000 Child molestation cases around the world(not counting Bangkok)

Lets suggest,
First things first. ALL political departments must NOT have any encoding on their respective phones.
This include police, state and federal and international.
This includes Every politician and all State/fed/international, agencies.

If you do this for the next 3-5 years, and DONT GET PISSED OFF, we can all change to unencrypted phones.

In the background,
Dear newspapers and TV agencies. Do I have a sale for you. Fairly over priced unit to isolate and listen to Any and all Broadcast signals. With isolation and tracking abilities.

Anonymous Coward says:

Encryption protects users privacy security and makes it hard to spy, track on random users it’s like cyclists use helmets and drivers use seat for safety finance and banks use it to protect user data and make online transactions safe and secure for non tech experts just because some gangs or criminals use it does not not mean it should be banned or compromised
If the Uk goes the way of Russia or Australia in making stupid extreme laws it will. Reduce user privacy and encourage tech finance startup company’s to move to Ireland or other country’s that value used privacy rights and freedom of speech
This at a time when more people are using mobile apps to buy products in shops or online or transfer money
Being out of the EU means the UK do not have to follow gdpr unless they are dealing with customers outside the UK eg France, Spain
But then the torys seem to want to destroy the bbc the UK s global standard media company so asking torys to make
Logical sensible policy’s right now with media or tech issues seems to be impossible right now

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