HA HA HA. UK home secretary Amber Rudd has admitted that she does not understand encryption, does not feel that she needs to understand it, but does feel that the technology firms are sneering at people like her for being so dumb when they make moves against it.
Being the home secretary involves some big decisions and some serious noises to be made. Rudd has come into the role when terrorism and technology are aligning and she, and others like her, want to put the snake back in the jam jar, but can't. Primarily because they don't get it, but also because the technology industry won't do much to help them.
This week Rudd was speaking at the Conservative Party conference when someone (presumably without the correct passes) asked her the question she has been dreading. We were not present, but the BBC was. It reports that one provocateur in the audience asked Rudd if she actually knew what she was talking about. She admitted that she did not, but added that this does not matter and then spiralled into an attack on technology giants who do understand what encryption is.
"It's so easy to be patronised in this business. We will do our best to understand it," she said."We will take advice from other people but I do feel that there is a sea of criticism for any of us who try and legislate in new areas, who will automatically be sneered at and laughed at for not getting it right,
"We will take advice from other people but I do feel that there is a sea of criticism for any of us who try and legislate in new areas, who will automatically be sneered at and laughed at for not getting it right.
"I don't need to understand how encryption works to understand how it's helping - end-to-end encryption - the criminals. I will engage with the security services to find the best way to combat that."
Rudd was challenged, naturally, by someone who does get encryption and was told that if the industry succumbed to her desires we would all be in a poorly protected pot. Unless, of course, people who did understand the maths behind the technology created their own systems for their own personal use.
Rudd got a bit snappy and then said that she understands some stuff, and just wants to find allies in the tech industry who will not just stand and point at her and her people as they stumble around in all those technical numbers.
"I understand the principle of end-to-end encryption - it can't be unwrapped. That's what has been developed," she added.
"What I am saying is the companies who are developing that should work with us. We don't get that help - although we sometimes get it in a fulsome way after an event has taken place".
We laughed at the start, but of course this is not funny. µ
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