Some Thoughts on the Encryption Regulatory Debate

Henry Pearce
Lecturer in Law, University of Hertfordshire, and Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Law and the Web at the University of Southampton.

This article was originally posted on the UKCLA blog

Debates about the regulation of encryption technologies and surveillance have been around for decades. It is in unfortunate circumstances that these debates have now been thrust back into the public eye. Following the horrifying Westminster attack which occurred on 22nd March 2017 Amber Rudd, the UK’s Home Secretary, has been very vocal in suggesting that in order for the police and security services to be able to effectively investigate and prevent future terrorist acts they must be given access to over-the-top messaging services that utilise end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp. (End-to-end encryption services can generally be described as those which allows for conversations to be read only by the sender and recipient of individual messages, meaning that such messages cannot be intercepted and read by a third party.) Her comments appeared to have been driven by the fact that Khalid Masood, the perpetrator of the attack, had used WhatsApp shortly before commencing his appalling actions. In particular, Rudd has claimed it is “unacceptable” that governmental agencies were unable to read messages protected by WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, and in an interview given to the BBC on Sunday 26th March, intimated that she would consider pursuing the enactment of new legislation which would require the providers of encrypted messaging services to grant access to the UK intelligence agencies. This sentiment has since broadly been endorsed by the UK government. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on the Encryption Regulatory Debate”

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Privacy and unwanted disclosures of photographs online: the future is wearable?

henry_pearceHenry Pearce
Lecturer in Law and Cohort Tutor at the University of Hertfordshire

The emergence of online social networking sites services has provided us with numerous benefits and has transformed the way in which people work, live, interact and learn. Their use, however, also gives rise to a number of legal and regulatory challenges concerning the privacy of the users of such services. One of the most significant of these challenges is the way in which social networking sites may be used as a means of facilitating the unwanted publication of photographs. It is estimated that approximately 1.8 billion photos are uploaded to social networking platforms each day.[1] Many of these pictures will contain images of identifiable individuals and will have been uploaded without their consent, or against their wishes, and may result in negative consequences. We frequently hear, for example, about individuals missing out on employment opportunities or being blackmailed as a result of personal data distributed via social media.[2] Accordingly, how individuals can be put in a position from which they can exercise control over information shared about them online, photographic or otherwise, and protect their privacy, has become a salient issue for European privacy regulators. An interesting recent development has suggested, however, that technology, rather than the law, might be the best way of securing this objective. Continue reading “Privacy and unwanted disclosures of photographs online: the future is wearable?”

How Facebook Really Handles Your Personal Conversations

Ashley Navo
LLB student at the University of Hertfordshire

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We live in society where everyday life revolves around technology and social media networking; we can pick and choose what to share, what to write, what to delete, like and dislike and the option to keep some or all of our details private. But what do you really know about Facebook privacy and how the company handles your personal details.

Continue reading “How Facebook Really Handles Your Personal Conversations”