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European Email Police (fwd)
This may be of interest to cypherpunk folk (yanked from the UK
Electronic Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk).
The Electronic Telegraph Monday 2 October 1995 The Front Page
Plan to police e-mail seems certain to fail
By Adrian Berry, Science Correspondent
A EUROPEAN Commission plan to police the use of secret codes in
electronic mail appears certain to fail. To detect criminals, the
commission is seeking legal powers to prevent people from using
secret codes on the Internet which it cannot crack.
Nature magazine says this would "effectively end the Internet's
status as an unregulated medium for the free flow of
The plan would require any person or company encrypting e-mail
messages to leave the "secret keys" to read them in the hands of
a law enforcement agency.
But Dr Peter Lammer, managing director of Sophos, the
Abingdon-based supplier of encryption software, said: "This plan
would never work because people wishing to evade it could
legitimately use layers of encryption.
"Suppose I send a secret file. I would first encrypt it with my
own system. I would then obey the law by encrypting it a second
time with the European-approved system.
"Even when the government agency had decrypted the message using
the keys they had been given, they would still find that the
message was totally unintelligible because of the second layer of
In France, it is illegal to use any kind of encryption, and
police can arrest the authors of any e-mail which they cannot
Codes are used by a vast range of financial companies, sending
money orders and sensitive commercial details.
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