‘I don’t need to understand how encryption works,’ admits UK Home Secretary

Amber Rudd is fed up with “sneering” and “patronising” technology experts.

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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'I don't need to understand how encryption works,' admits UK Home Secretary

As BBC News reports, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has used a Conservative party conference event to once again share her desire to “combat” end-to-end encryption:

“I don’t need to understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping – end-to-end encryption – the criminals. I will engage with the security services to find the best way to combat that.”

Rudd, who has recently claimed that “real people” don’t care if the likes of WhatsApp keep their messages private, had been asked by a member of the audience to explain how end-to-end encryption actually worked.

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The Home Secretary (perhaps sensibly) declined to tackle that challenge, and instead said:

“It’s so easy to be patronised in this business. We will do our best to understand it. We will take advice from other people but I do feel that there is a sea of criticism for any of us who try and legislate in new areas, who will automatically be sneered at and laughed at for not getting it right.”

Trust me Amber, we’re not laughing.

Fortunately, some sanity was restored at the event by one of the other speakers on the panel – Michael Beckerman of the Internet Association, representing the views of Google, Microsoft and other tech giants:

“Since it is just math and it has been invented it can’t uninvented… So even if every internet company that we represent said ‘ok we are turning off encryption’ you are just weakening the security for everybody in this room but that math, that technology still exists for others to use on other platforms.”

Encryption is a good thing.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

3 comments on “‘I don’t need to understand how encryption works,’ admits UK Home Secretary”

  1. drsolly

    Yes, dear, of course you don't.

  2. Dave Howe

    Well, "that technology still exists for others to use on other platforms" except in Australia, because the laws of mathematics apparently don't apply there :D

  3. Chris Pugson

    Politicians show so little understanding of the phenomena which are existential beyond their ken. How can they enact effective useful legislation unless they have some idea how things work? No wonder they retreat into their safe little worlds. Ignorance might be bliss for them but he rest of us have to suffer the consequences of their ignorance. Rudd does want her online banking to be secure, doesn't she? She does do her banking online?

    Politicians need to develop their skills beyond elementary obfuscation.

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