Crooks & Crypto

"Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot" said none other than the caped crusader, Batman. But it seems they're a lazy lot too. The Register has an article on how 'belief that they won't get caught' and laziness has meant that the feared widespread use of cryptography by criminals has not come about.

It was this fear that has lead governments (most notably the US) to float the idea of criminalizing the use of encryption software or requiring the Government hold a key in escrow (such as with the Clipper chip).

A few years go the UK passed a law ("RIPA section 49")requiring suspects to hand over encryption keys when requested or face fines and up to two years jail. They have since charged suspects under it.

A great piece on the controversy of whether encryption is harmful or not is also available here.

Cryptography is a tool and can be used for good or for ill. Personally I don't believe in a system where the Government holds keys in escrow without unprecedented transperancy around who is accessing keys (and why!) and don't believe such a system would ever be workable. Make Cryptography illegal? Well the 'bad guys' are already breaking the law and only law-abiding citizens would be disadvantaged.

Oh, and I'm more than happy for criminals to remain a lazy, overconfident and superstitious cowardly lot!

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