Part 3 of the RIP Act coming soon for the UK

The UK Home Office has decided to put through the 3rd part of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Originally introduced in 2000, the first two parts have already been implemented. This particular part would introduce penalties of up to 2 years in jail for companies or individuals who wouldn’t disclose their encryption keys at the government’s request. The final language may be amended, since the Home Office is involved in a consultation process on this matter, and results have yet to be reached.

As usual, the Slashdot people are having a field day with this bit of news. Even the language used by reputable news organizations is sensationalistic. I have to admit I was concerned, but I had a look at the wording of the act, and it says, clearly, that organizations or individuals would only need to release their encryption keys at the specific request of Her Majesty’s forces, for a pending investigation. It’s not as if the government’s asking everyone to hand over their keys, en masse. They’re also going to reimburse them for their expenses of retrieving and reproducing that data.

To me, this is no different than the powers of search and seizure police have here in the States. They can obtain a warrant to search your property, and you can be sure they’ll go through with a fine tooth comb, looking for anything important. On top of that, they won’t reimburse you for the trouble.

Well, now they’ll be able to do the same to someone’s data in the UK. Until now, encrypted data was above the law, so to speak – if it was well encrypted. If RIPA-3 gets going, the police might have a chance to take a look at it. I say “might”, because encryption can use constantly changing keys, and if you forget or misplace the original key, good luck getting that data back…


In France, politicians still listen to the voice of reason

The New York Times is running a piece on a French teenager by the name of Aziz Ridouan. He has managed to convince the politicians to listen to him when it comes to digital music. He’s only 18 years old, and he’s already founded the Audionautes, a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance to those accused of illegally downloading music. Aziz says most politicians don’t even know what downloading is. That’s shocking, and when I say this, I doubt that only the French politicians are clueless. I think politicians the world over have no real concept of digital music, and iPods, and streaming music over computer networks, or downloading stuff from the Internet and sharing it with your friends.

Yet – and here comes the shocker – they’re making laws about this stuff! It’s no wonder the stuff they put out here in the States is so inane. They’re getting only one side of the story – from the RIAA and organizations like it, NOT from their constituents. At least in France, the land of political paradoxes, they’re willing to listen to a child, an immigrant, and a poor one at that, all rolled into one. Amazing! Kudos to Aziz for helping them get it!


Congress readies new digital copyright bill

I find this unbelievable, yet Congress seems poised to pass another revision of the DMCA, expanding the reach of this already-controversial bill. It only goes to show the power that special-interest groups have in Washington.

For example, under this new law, if Sony’s rootkit malware were removed by anti-virus software, Sony would have the right to sue those companies! Sounds very silly, doesn’t it!

Just talking about or attempting to bypass copyright protection on anything can land you in jail for up to 10 years! This parallels a French law that their legislature wanted to pass late last year.

I am left to ponder whether lack of forethought and absence of logic have hopped on the back of the bird flu swans and have now infected our politicians… Maybe they’ve been here all along, ever since the 1st version of the DMCA was passed years ago.

Here’s a link to the CNET News article.