GILC Press Release

Global Internet Liberty Campaign Member Statement

New UK Encryption Policy criticised

17 February, 1998

This press release is available at

Today, members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign criticised the recent comments of the UK Home Secretary Jack Straw which favours the development of "key recovery" solutions for the regulation of encryption. The Global Internet Liberty Campaign which favours the unrestricted use of cryptography to protect personal privacy confirmed in a statement today that "mandatory key recovery policies would make Britain a second-class nation in the Information Age".

GILC member statement is at

According to the GILC member statement, Jack Straw’s new initiatives are at odds with the recently announced European Union policy on encryption and the OECD policy guidelines on cryptography. The GILC member statement further stated that "the debate about the prohibition or limitation of the use of encryption will not only have a terrible effect on online computer security - a national security issue itself - and electronic commerce, but also directly affects the right to privacy."

The GILC Member statement has been signed by 22 organisations world-wide.

"Does Mr Straw really want every national government in the world to be able to decrypt electronic communications?" asked Andrew Oram of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. "How will that encourage businesses to exchange sensitive plans and citizens to make purchases over the Internet -- not to mention human rights and democratic organisations? It is time to admit that governments will have to find other ways to fight crime, and celebrate the rare blow in favour of privacy that we have achieved with computer encryption."

According to Yaman Akdeniz of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), "Although privacy is not recognised as a basic human right within the UK, Mr Jack Straw should remember that this will soon change with the recently introduced UK Human Rights Bill which will incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights. Of special concern is the protection of privacy of online users on the Internet. Key escrow, key recovery, and the DTI’s conception of trusted third parties create dangers for private communications on the Internet. The question is not whether any such interception and access to encryption keys is wrong, but whether it is safe to entrust all future governments in perpetuity with an unprecedented technical capability for mass surveillance."

GILC is an international coalition of civil liberties and human rights organisations concerned with protection of political liberty in the on-line world. GILC has members in more than twenty countries, and maintains a web site at

Press contact information:

Contact Mr. Yaman Akdeniz, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), +44 498 865116 or e-mail at and/or Mr. Andrew Oram, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (USA), +1 617-499-7479. or e-mail at

For further information see:

Global Internet Liberty Campaign Member Statement: New UK Encryption Policy criticised, February 1998, is available The press release for this statement is available at:

GILC, Cryptography and Liberty: An International Survey of Encryption Policy, February 1998, at <>. A world survey of crypto policies released in February has found that most countries do not restrict the use of encryption.

GILC statement, "Human Rights and the Internet," January 1998, <>.

GILC Resolution in Support of the Freedom to Use Cryptography, September 1996, <>.

The Labour Party Policy on Information Superhighway before the May 1997 elections, "Communicating Britain’s Future," <>.

European Commission Communication, "Towards A European Framework for Digital Signatures And Encryption," Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions ensuring Security and Trust in Electronic Communication, COM (97) 503, October 1997, at <>.

OECD Cryptography Policy Guidelines: Recommendation of the Council Concerning Guidelines for Cryptography Policy, 27 March 1997, at <>.

Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), "First Report on UK Encryption Policy" is available at <>.

Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) advises Jack Straw, the UK Home Secretary, on the issue of encryption, press release, 02 February, 1998, at <>.

British and Foreign Civil Rights Organisations Oppose Encryption Paper, 9 April 1997. See <>.

"Cryptography and Liberty: Can the Trusted Third Parties be Trusted? A Critique of the Recent UK Proposals," 1997 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <>.

"Scrambling for Safety - Privacy, security and commercial implications of the DTI’s proposed encryption policy," Conference Report, 1997 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <>.

Scrambling for Safety Conference web site is at <>.

Internet Engineering Task Force statement, "Internet groups critical of government proposals to restrict encryption technology," at <>.

Abelson, Anderson, et al., "The Risks of Key Recovery, Key Escrow, and Trusted Third Party Encryption," 1997, at <>.

IRIS Report, "Cryptography : on the necessity of totally liberalising the French law," at <>.

The Walsh Report, "Review of policy relating to encryption technologies," at <>.

Kryptographie, Cryptography resources in German from FITUG, at <>.