Decode this: The U.K. says it doesn’t want to ban encryption after all

uk will not ban encryption david cameron
Drop of Light/Shutterstock.com
Common messaging apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger hardly seem like contraband. But U.K. users have recently worried that their favorite apps could be banned under the upcoming Investigatory Powers Bill, which takes aim at encrypted messaging services.

Although Prime Minister David Cameron had previously suggested the bill could ban encryption, his office backpedaled today in a statement to Business Insider, telling the outlet, “The Prime Minister did not suggest encryption should be banned.”

Earlier this year, Cameron promised “legislation that makes sure we do not allow terrorist safe spaces to communicate with each other.” His statement was interpreted as a swipe at encrypted communication.

Messaging apps increasingly use encryption to protect users’ data, and law enforcement agencies in the U.K. and the United States have struggled to maintain access to these communication platforms. Proposals have varied from an outright encryption ban in the U.K. to mandated backdoors in the U.S.

Cameron’s stance on encryption is further clarified in a letter from his minister of Internet safety and security, Baroness Joanna Shields. In the letter, published by Business Insider, Shields wrote of encryption, “It is fundamental to our everyday use of the Internet. Without the development of strong encryption allowing the secure transfer of banking details there would be no online commerce.” However, she also called for compromise, writing, “The Prime Minister has been clear that there cannot be areas of the internet which are off limits to the rule of law — and this has to include, where is necessary and proportionate, individuals’ private communications.”

The letter echoed FBI Director James Comey’s statements during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, in which Comey expressed support for strong encryption in business contexts, but asked tech companies to compromise encrypted communications during criminal investigations.

But technologists have argued that such a compromise on encryption is simply not possible.

A report released last week by several prominent technologists provides a counterpoint to the stance proposed by U.S. and U.K. officials, essentially pointing out that trying to open encrypted data only to law enforcement while keeping out hackers is an impossible task. 

During last week’s Senate Judiciary hearing, Dr. Herbert Lin, a senior research scholar for the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford, raised questions about the practicality of mandating encryption that is accessible to law enforcement. Such a mandate, he explained, would have to be enforced not only with large technology companies, but also with small app developers and at U.S. borders, where Americans’ devices would theoretically need to be searched for foreign encryption apps upon returning from travel abroad.

Mobile

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Mobile

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Wearables

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.
Business

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.
Mobile

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.
Mobile

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.
Mobile

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Mobile

OpenTable points can now be used to whittle down cost of a hotel stay

Have some OpenTable Dining Points built up? Now those points can also be used to make your own hotel discounts. OpenTable is teaming up with Kayak to use points as discounts on participating hotels.
Mobile

The Razer Phone 2 will have a $100 off deal for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Deals

REI slashes prices on Suunto, Garmin, and Fitbit Versa smartwatches

Though fitness trackers and smartwatches can get pretty pricey, REI is offering some sweet discounts on top brands. Right now, you can get a new smartwatch from Fitbit, Suunto, and Garmin for up to 35 percent off its normal price.
Social Media

Twitter privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.
Wearables

See the four cool Swatch watches you can use for mobile payments

Swatch has announced its Swatchpay technology is now available in Switzerland, enabling mobile payments from your Swatch watch. It works in a similar way to Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here's everything about it.