David Cameron, the fascist prime minister of the United Kingdom, has decided that us serfs have no need for secure communications. He has expressed a desire to make the use of end-to-end encrypted communications illegal:
The prime minister has pledged anti-terror laws to give the security services the ability to read encrypted communications in extreme circumstances. But experts say such access would mean changing the way internet-based messaging services such as Apple’s iMessage or Facebook’s WhatsApp work.
This is just another battle in the crypto wars that have been waged between the state and the people. Needless to say the state hasn’t been faring so well. Nobody should be surprised by this though. History is littered with examples of power hungry despots trying to control commonly available technology and failing miserably. For example, the Inquisition was very interested in controlling access to printing presses in order to prevent the spread of anti-Church literature. It didn’t end well for them.
Today states are interested in restricting our access to secure communications. We’re told that these restrictions are necessary for the state to keep us safe but history has shown that such restrictions are put into place to bolster the state’s power. History has also shown us that any restrictions unpopular with the people fail in time.
Secure communication tools are now so pervasive that they cannot help but hold popular support. Nobody wants to transmit their authentication credentials in a way that anybody can intercept them (and if the state can intercept them then anybody can). People suffering from embarrassing medical conditions don’t want the world to know about it when they’re searching for related material online. And few people want others to know what kind of porn they watch.
We have need for secure communications and the tools to enable it are widely available. That means Cameron’s desires cannot be realized. Even if he passes a law making end-to-end encryption illegal people will use it coupled with anonymity tools to protect themselves from prosecution. You can’t put the djinn back in the bottle once it’s out no matter how many laws you pass. The fact that Cameron doesn’t realize this shows how delusional of his power he truly is.