A STUDY IN THE UK PARLIAMENT looking into whether David Cameron's plans to ban encryption are sound has found that they are not.
The study was carried out by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, and looked into how the darknet, or Tor, and online anonymity is being used.
The Darknet and Online Anonymity report (PDF) explained that it is used by parties including criminals, whistleblowers and journalists, and looked at how to tackle its bad use while still preserving anonymity at a time when people want it most.
There is no support for the banning of such systems, according to the report, and the majority of people would find it unacceptable.
"There is widespread agreement that banning online anonymity systems altogether is not seen as an acceptable policy option in the UK. Even if it were, there would be technical challenges," it said.
The report cited, perhaps unfortunately, the example of the Chinese government and its attempts to stifle communications.
The report added that some people might support a version of Tor that is open, a sort of oxytoron perhaps, and does not offer Tor Hidden Services (THS). But this is dismissed as technically unfeasible, which we are taking to mean impossible.
"Some argue for a Tor without hidden services because of the criminal content on some THS. However, THS also benefit non-criminal Tor users because they may add a further layer of security," it said.
"If a user accesses a THS the communication never leaves the Tor network and the communication is encrypted from origin to destination.
"Therefore, sites requiring strong security, like whistleblowing platforms, are offered as THS. Also, computer experts argue that any legislative attempt to preclude THS from being available in the UK over Tor would be technologically unfeasible."
Of course, this is all words and air, and nothing that the report says has to be actioned. Cameron might take it on board and revise his opinions on privacy and anonymity. Or he might not. µ
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