By Aleks Besan
June 14, 2017
Dear Editor: The UK needs strong encryption
The UK has been taken up in a storm of electoral excitement. The historically slim margin between the Conservative party’s narrow minority win and the Labour party’s ballooning support as runners-up in this political race is a clear indicator that Brits are open to change! This change needs to include a committed plan for digital security.
When it comes to your rights online, the steps taken by the Conservative government so far have held tremendously worrying implications. Just a few weeks before the election, the Home Secretary’s covert plans to invade our privacy were publicly revealed, but only thanks to a shocking leak by our friends at Open Rights Group.
This leak revealed that Theresa May and her Ministers want to bypass encryption and gain real-time access to your text messages and online communications. They even want to force companies like WhatsApp to break the security on its own software, making us all more vulnerable to attacks like the recent ransomware assault against the NHS.
We can stop this, but we need to show newly-elected MPs the strength of opposition that’s out there. That’s why we’re taking things to the press with our new Letter to the Editor tool.
The time is ripe to bring attention to digital security: after such a close election newly-appointed MPs are especially sensitive to their constituencies’ loudest concerns. Conservative MPs will be wondering why their party has lost this much public support in this election -- and paying close attention to what outspoken voters are saying. These MPs will also be looking closely at what their local newspapers are saying — and that’s right where they’ll see your letter in defence of a strong encryption plan!
We’ve seen this powerful attention-grabbing tactic work well in both Canada and the U.S. before, where we helped citizens across both nations voice their outrage over proposed legislation that would undermine their privacy. Getting so many citizen voices into local newspapers really helped change the debate.
Check out our easy-to-use Letter to the Editor tool right now — we’ve included suggested talking points to help get you started.
As countless experts have pointed out, Theresa May’s logic around accessing all mobile phone text information in real-time is all wrong. Faulty handling and government workarounds to encryption technologies don’t protect citizens, instead they compromise the best tools citizens have to maintain their security. This is precisely what led to the recent worldwide ransomware attack on computers around the world, which halted the National Health Service, literally putting lives on the line.
It would be dangerous to believe those who pretend new extreme spying powers are needed to stop terrorism. This is a ‘something must be done’ response to a horrific attack on our lives. But all the expert evidence says that weakening the encryption technologies that keep us safe will help criminals, not stop them. That’s why it’s never been more important to speak up for basic British freedoms.
In these challenging times, it is vital that we don’t lose our democratic values in the name of saving them — but that’s just what Theresa May is threatening to do. No matter where you live in the UK, we hope you’ll speak up now with our powerful new tool.
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