The UK’s bad encryption law can’t withstand global contempt

Opinion Around the world, a vital technology is failing. Just as massive solar flares fry satellites and climate-change superstorms overwhelm flood defences, so a new surge of ridiculous IT-related events is burning out irony meters across the globe.

Let’s start with a couple of plums from the US, where – hold onto your peaked caps – law enforcement officials have been breaking the law, wholesale. Secret Service and immigration officers have been caught using fake cell phone towers to intercept and monitor communications, without bothering to get permission or follow the rules. Then it was the turn of the FBI, the body charged with things like cybersecurity and detecting online pedophile activity, which saw – ah, you’re there already – its child abuse unit hacked.

Both these events are of course intrinsically highly ironic, but nothing a modern irony meter can’t deal with. Heroic engineering efforts have produced hardened front-end sensors in response to years of Trump and Brexit that work well at ironic flux levels that smoke devices of just a decade old.

No, the new crisis exists because these prime examples of lawlessness and incompetence in state agencies charged with dealing with the most sensitive data come at exactly the same time as state claims that there is no danger in stripping citizens of the sole means to protect against such things. Meter go bang.

We speak of course of the UK’s Online Safety Bill, which is working its way through Parliament. The government says, with

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