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United Kingdom Encryption Government Security

UK Government Proposes 'License To Hack' As Encryption Proves Hard To Defeat (thetimes.co.uk) 80

An anonymous reader writes: The Times reports (paywalled) that the Investigatory Powers Bill promised by the UK government over the summer is likely to be presented to parliament next month, and that it will contain 'dizzying' powers for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to hack the devices of individuals under investigation, with the permission of the home secretary. An implementation of the Wilson Doctrine will mean that British MPs will not be subject to these powers in the same way as other citizens. According to a digital evidence expert that the Times interviewed, the bill addresses the difficulty that the UK government is sharing with other nations in defeating encryption effectively. "Hacking is different from interception because it allows hackers to take control of the device, using it for surveillance and accessing data from the source, rather than simply intercepting them, which is becoming increasingly difficult."
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UK Government Proposes 'License To Hack' As Encryption Proves Hard To Defeat

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is very important. If you do not assume that they are already doing this, and have been for years, then you are delusional.

    See Edward Snowden for the most recent proof.

    • Yep. Why do you think all those stupid apps you download need so many permissions?

      They can probably turn on your microphone/camera at will (among other things).

      • Hmm, I think Allow?/Deny? isn't suffecient for security. You should be able to Allow?/Deny?/Fake? where fake redirects the API's to fake or random data. The webcam or mike when faked might just be able to access the Rick Roll or Trr La La music or music videos. Contacts might redirect for a list of Congressmen etc.
    • by samantha ( 68231 ) *

      Then why bother to draw attention to themselves by declaring outright that they will do it? Or is the point to make it after the fact legal? Or is it more of a trial balloon as to their progress in selling the BIG LIE that anything and everything the government does is for our own good to "keep us safe".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @08:57AM (#50772751)

    So if I understand this correctly, the corrupt powers-that-be will be immune to that which is needed the most to clean up their actions that, if they were a common citizen would be criminal?

    hmmm...

    • by MightyDrunken ( 1171335 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:39AM (#50774325)
      Don't be silly. Of course GCHQ etc won't officially hack British MP's but I'm sure the NSA and friends can lend a helping hand, and vice versa.
      • Ah yes, I saw this before in Sneakers [imdb.com].

        "I cannot spy on my friends."

        [turns to NSA]

        "Spy on my friends."

      • Don't be silly. Of course GCHQ etc won't officially hack British MP's but I'm sure the NSA and friends can lend a helping hand, and vice versa.

        wait... so the British are going to invade our networks?!

        THE BRITISH ARE COMING! THE BRITISH ARE COMING! SECOND AMENDMENT TIME, MOTHERFUCKERS!

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          One if by ARP two if TCP
          And I on the opposite hub will be
          Ready to boot to Intel or ARM
          Encrypting my data so no server farm ...

          I have no shame.

    • If a country's laws do not protect its citizens anymore, it is probably more sensibly by the government to expect its citizens to oppose those laws and assume that they will break it at the first chance. Which is coincidentally what they do.

      So I guess they know about it. And I only say that because I have no proof that these laws are actually aiming against the population to prop up the powers that are for as long as it is feasible.

      History repeats itself. It's just like East Block around 1980. In other word

    • Despite regular assurances about the Wilson Doctrine for the last 60 years, British MPs were recently dismayed to find out that they are, in fact, being spied upon [theguardian.com] - just like any other citizen. The Wilson Doctrine was finally admitted (after a legal challenge) to be nothing more than a vague platitude with "no legal force".

      Goes to show that politicians lie to each other as regularly as they do to the rest of us. The only notable part is that some of them appeared genuinely surprised by this.

    • If these powers start to be used routinely in criminal investigations then the very idea of the "rights of the accused" will be a joke. This is about intelligence, not law enforcement, though I realize the line is getting blurrier by the day. Intelligence and law enforcement officers that cross that line should be getting jailed.

      The idea of the Wilson doctrine is that if intelligence started spying on MPs they could find embarrassing information and use it to blackmail parliament, thus subverting democracy.
  • I don't think this would be as thrilling of a James Bond movie as License to Kill....

  • Hmmm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @09:08AM (#50772861) Homepage

    So if governments around the world are giving themselves license to hack into our stuff, do anything they please, and share this with other governments ... then it almost seems like a moral duty that every government server is now fair game.

    Just sayin'. If governments are declaring war on our rights, they have no expectation people won't do this to them.

    Sorry, but governments who are claiming to be defending our rights while taking those rights away have lost an awful lot of moral authority here.

    Especially when they take the stuff they said they'd only use to fight terrorism, and now apply it to every day things.

    Fuck you, Big Brother. Fuck you.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's ok, I feel that also gives me the right to create new encryption and counter hacking tools and programme to make your life harder and freely distribute the programme's on servers outside your jurisdiction.

      Enjoying hacking my benign messages about my cat and the need for milk, until you understand that privacy is something that a lot of people value and have no malicious intent, and you cannot take it away without a fight.

      • Right? Oh you're prodding my servers? What was that phrase again...

        "Treat others the way they treat you"... Was that it?

        Sounds good to me!

        • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

          Right? Oh you're prodding my servers? What was that phrase again...

          "Treat others the way they treat you"... Was that it?

          Actually,no. It was Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi.

    • by ras ( 84108 )

      So if governments around the world are giving themselves license to hack into our stuff, do anything they please, and share this with other governments ... then it almost seems like a moral duty that every government server is now fair game.

      The people in power always have always read, listened to, or saw pretty much whatever they wanted, although possibly they had to pause to spin the reason into a "so the terrorists don't win" or "think of the children" meme. And with "people in power" I don't just mean the politicians, or the spooks. Judges assume they can extract information by just issuing an writ to hand over documents, and its almost considered "due diligence" now for employers to launch MITM attacks on in https connections their emplo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If knowing programming without being one of the High Programmers is illegal, how do you become one of the High Programmers without it being treason?

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @09:15AM (#50772925)

    It's like the UK is reliving it's past, minus the part about the Magna Carta.

    • Exactly ... take out all those pesky things which limit their powers, and it will allow them to do so much more.

      What government wants to have its hands tied by protecting the rights of its citizens? That just creates extra paperwork and legal hurdles.

      With a scared citizenry who knows their rights are what you tell them, you can accomplish much more.

  • Mainly because the code number are in hexadecimal.
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @10:39AM (#50773701)

    Like certain pictures that will land the person hacked in jail for a long time. No need to find anything actually bad anymore, you can just easily get rid of anybody you do not like. That is how it is done in any self-respecting police-state or fascist state!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Theresa May has tried to pass Snoopers charter and withdrawn. Now she tries this shit, but Snowden two weeks ago revealed GCHQ can hack every phone. We get it. You can see her group, but this isn't a coup. Britain is still a Parliamentary democracy. We can see she's trying to legalize what you lot are already doing, and she's doing the same pedo terrorists shit that was used to attack Parliament recently.

    Remember Tom Watsons "Parliament pedo killers ring"? This is an attempt to use an idiot (Tom Watson) to

  • by Atmchicago ( 555403 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @10:55AM (#50773851)
    If the government takes over a device and starts masquerading as the owner, how do we know? Could they hack your phone, use it to view a forbidden website, and then land you in jail because of it? Conversely, does this give people plausible deniability for actions performed on their digital equipment?
    • They already control your tea kettle, using an IoT backdoor.

      You're being spied on right now.

      In your home.

      Without a warrant.

    • Here's how that would work out:

      1. They come after you
      2. You claim that the government did it.
      3. They say "you have no evidence that we did it, and we won't disclose any actions we may or may not have taken because of national security. By the way, anything that you think is evidence is now classified.
      4. You lose.

      This is analogous to those situations in which someone sues the government for running an illegal dragnet, and they counter by saying you have no standing because you don't know that you wer
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      It depends on where the person of interest was found. On IM chat, IRC, a forum, web 2.0 social media, some new phone only social media app.
      Re "how do we know?"
      A honey trap? Disinformation? No more access? would be a slow rolling in of online hints.
      To understand the traditional outcome consider the classic methods used on Irish human rights campaigners, UK trade unions or any other political or social issues going back many decades.
  • It will look really nice hanging on the wall next to my "License to ill"

  • Illegal on the face of it.

    This is why the UK will break up if London greedmeisters persist.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Illegal on the face of it.

      This is why the UK will break up if London greedmeisters persist.

      Not just the UK: England itself will also break up; there's already regional assemblies being planned for various sections of the country.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Even if they don't plant evidence they will be contaminating any evidence. There is a reason that police are required to 'pull the plug' on devices when they seize equipment. Anything else risks contaminating it and making in unusable in court. Once a drive is in the hands of the police it gets handed over to forensics which while a big joke IMHO has the tools to clone the disk and make an image of it using tools that prevent write commands from being issued to the original drive. This combined with a stric

  • A license to hack? You need that now in Britain! What a police state. I've been hacking for decades. I honestly don't know if this is scarier than if they offered a "License to crack" people's systems as well..
  • The entire point of using encryption is to keep snoops of all kinds out of your information as much as possible. Just because the snoop works for the government does not mean they get carte blanche or are any less criminal if the hack into a device.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      A keylogger will be waiting for every message created or displayed.
      The idea is to get to the plain text as seen or created before any user installed encryption application or user installed/commercial alternative operating system.
  • Before the advent of digital communications, if the government wanted to covertly know what you were up to, they would have to break into and bug your home, tamper with your telephone, physically follow you around. It was difficult and expensive, so out of necessity limited to the most interesting targets. Yes the definition of 'interesting' varied from country to country and time to time, from criminals to political dissidents to inconvenient minorities, but the majority of people were generally safe from

    • by awol ( 98751 )

      It's a complicated question that presents me with difficulties. Let us assume that we live in a country with separate Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers. Despite failings, this is largely true of the UK. If the executive (police etc) want to spy on someone they need a legislative authority and I would like them to have a second, independent, step by which someone evaluates if the purpose of their spying is within the legislative authority. That would be a judge. I am not convinced that the Home Secr

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