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Head of UK Intelligence Agency Says Tech Companies Should Provide a Way Around Encryption

In a speech at the Internet Policy Research Initiative at MIT, British intelligence agency GCHQ director Robert Hannigan said Monday that law enforcement and intelligence officials want only targeted ways to stop what he called "abuse of encryption" by ISIS and other terrorists and criminals. Quoting from his speech:

"The truth is that within the parameters set by legislation, it should be possible for technical experts to sit down together and work out solutions to particular manifestations of the abuse of encryption, as I would describe it. I suspect those solutions will not be single, but diverse and increasingly dynamic, as the Berkmann Centre report suggests.

But here is the major challenge which the Berkmann report understandably leaves hanging: law enforcement in particular needs solutions now, often against a ticking clock, and cannot safely wait for complex or fragile possibilities to be offered. There is an urgency which needs to be met, even if a comprehensive solution is beyond reach at the moment. The kind of big data solutions which are critical to us in what we call 'target discovery' - for example finding people we don't know about in Northern Syria who are planning attacks against the UK - are not a substitute for what law enforcement needs now against a known individual for investigation and prosecution.

To address this, we recognise that we need a new relationship between the tech sector, academia, civil society and Government agencies. We should be trying to bridge the divide, sharing ideas and building a constructive dialogue in a less highly-charged atmosphere. That's why I'm here, in short."

The full transcript of his speech can be read here.

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A good timely piece and a sage Anthony Rutkowski  –  Mar 15, 2016 4:05 PM PDT

A good timely piece and a sage request from the Director.

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