The UK government has absolutely no intention of weakening or curbing communication encryption, it was confirmed.
When asked by Lord Clement-Jones to “absolutely confirm” that no upcoming legislation will weaken encryption or provide back doors to software, Baroness Shields said:
“I can confirm that there is no intention to do that. That is correct.”
“The government does not advocate or require the provision of a back-door key or support arbitrarily weakening the security of internet applications and services in such a way. Such tools threaten the integrity of the internet itself,” she added.
The discussion was sparked by Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments regarding encryption. The Prime Minister has, in several occasions, hinted that encryption should be banned or at least weakened. One of such examples was in January 2015, when he said there should be no “means of communication” which “we cannot read”.
However, Baroness Shields says the Prime Minister was only expressing concern for the matter.
“The Prime Minister did not advocate banning encryption,” she said.
“He expressed concern that many companies are building end-to-end encrypted applications and services and not retaining the keys. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that there cannot be a safe place for terrorists, criminals and paedophiles to operate freely, with impunity and beyond the reach of law. This is not about creating back doors; this is about companies being able to access communications on their network when presented with a warrant.”
She did say that the use of end-to-end encryption was “alarming”.
“It is absolutely essential that these companies, which understand and build those stacks of technology, are able to decrypt that information and provide it to law enforcement in extremis,” she said.