Key escrow in the UK

Jeremiah Foster jeremiah.foster at
Fri Jul 29 12:47:03 UTC 2005

On Jul 29, 2005, at 2:40 PM, Gareth Bowker wrote:

> On Fri, Jul 29, 2005 at 02:01:08PM +0200, Jeremiah Foster wrote:
>> On Jul 29, 2005, at 1:43 PM, Gareth Bowker wrote:
>>> Why would they do that, if they knew their communications could now 
>>> be
>>> intercepted?
>> True, those using private key encryption may move to another form of
>> encryption, but is there another form of encryption as powerful and
>> easily available?
> What impetus would there be to move?

They may feel compelled to use something to encrypt their conversations 
>> It is not so much the interception of communications that the police
>> are interested in, it is the decrypting of data on hard drives 
>> captured
>> in raids of suspected bomber's homes. In other words, should the 
>> police
>> have an escrowed key available for use only in situations where they
>> have already convinced the court that a search warrant is necessary?
> But again, why would they use it? There's *already* software which 
> works
> with no form of escrow. Why would anyone switch to using software which
> allows anyone with the escrow key to decrypt their data, when there are
> tools which work with no form of key escrow?
So your point is that since public key encryption software already 
exists that belatedly forcing key escrow would have no effect, if I 
understand you correctly?

I think there are technical details involved in recovering previously 
created public keys which I know nothing about. But presumably the 
police feel there is a way to recover these keys and place them in 

What I am concerned about is how we as a Free Software community, 
concerned with privacy, should create policy. Do we want to state that 
the police are invading people's privacy too much to demand private key 
escrow? Is it not technically feasible now that PKE is already "in the 
wild"? Should the FSFE have a position on the police's request?

More information about the Discussion mailing list