I write by way of update following our last statement on this subject.
Although I’m pleased to report that we now have premises in the United States, I’m disappointed to report that - despite nearly uniform opprobrium from business and the press - it would appear, per yesterday’s reporting in Ars Technica, that the British government persists in its position that encrypted communications, and presumably by extension any open-source cryptography, are the kind of things that the government should be able to break, on issuance of a warrant signed by a politician and not by a judge.
What is not being said here, but should be said, is that the UK government already has a very wide range of powers available to it, such as key disclosure laws which provide for severe custodial penalties for anyone who fails to provide decryption keys when ordered to do so.
Using existing tools, however, requires the government to conduct surveillance which has a specific target, is limited in scope, and is conducted in accordance with an unclassified, judicial warrant under the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Why centuries-old judicial safeguards should be replaced with political control is beyond me. Why such a proposal should be put forward by the Conservative Party - recalling the occasion when Margaret Thatcher reportedly slammed a copy of Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty on a table before saying, “This is what we believe” at a Conservative Party policy meeting - I find even stranger still.
As Cory Doctorow put it, “weak crypto” is like “slightly fatal” - and the British government knows it. “No safe spaces” for terrorists means no safe spaces for anyone: SSH, SSL/HTTPS, and a range of other fundamental tools upon which the entire world relies to secure its data are incompatible with the government’s messaging.
Even without discussing technical matters, it would appear that the vast majority of the British people oppose this legislation: a recent YouGov poll showed that nearly half of the country would use the internet less if they knew they were under constant surveillance, and furthermore that people felt the British government had not made its case for additional powers by a margin of twenty to one.
We repeat our call today for the Government to withdraw this profoundly illiberal legislation from the legislative agenda, and repeat our invitation to other businesses to join us, Ind.ie, and Ghost in committing to leave the United Kingdom if it is passed into law.