rod mclaughlin

Michael Gove humour, Priti Patel looks for hackers (11 sep 21...01 oct 21)

From the Daily Telegraph -

Gove is learning to his cost that we’ve lost the art of debating

They seek to suck all the joy out of life, these new Puritans.

Consider the Lib Dem response to the airing on Monday of a few old (1987 and 1993) tapes of Michael Gove making deliberately outrageous remarks at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions to shock and amuse. He should, said Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain, 'be ashamed that he ever thought these things, let alone said them. These inappropriate and racist remarks are not befitting of a government minister, nor befitting of a journalist, in fact not befitting of anyone.'

She reminds me of the Roman Catholic bishops of my Dublin childhood warning their congregations against impure thoughts. These days, I think, what bishops '” and, indeed, Chief Whips '” should be saying is that seeking to destroy people's careers by subjecting every word they uttered in the past to the scrutiny of a censorious later generation destroys trust and spontaneity, eradicates humour from public life, enforces conformity and is one of the greatest evils of our time.

Michael Gove is a lot funnier than he used to be, and some remarks were crass and unrepeatable. But he had the excuse of youth at a glorious time when people were free to speak without fear - and, crucially, he did so within the great traditions of the university debating societies, where what you said was not necessarily what you believed, but was intended to entertain, provoke and win arguments.. My 1960s student life in University College Dublin was made magical by Saturday nights at the Literary and Historical Debating Society (L&H), founded by Cardinal Newman in 1855, which to us represented freedom from the censorious outside world.

It was where we gathered to applaud and boo the orators, particularly the iconoclasts, mavericks and wits, and through the clash of debate and argument to tease each other out of a very conservative and religious society''s straitjacket. Few women spoke '“ mainly because there was no tradition of debating in girls'' schools and the L&H was a bearpit peopled by brilliant, merciless hecklers '” but it was nonetheless also our club, and when I attend its occasional reunions we talk of a period of absolute joy when we egged each other on to question and make fun of everything.

We relied on modest membership fees and had none of the trappings of our Oxford, Cambridge and Trinity College Dublin equivalents, but particularly because of its anarchic edge, the L&H often carried off debating trophies like the Observer Mace. I haven''t been back to speak there for some time, but from what I hear it has been struck by the contagion of the Wokery that I found at the Oxford Union where I recently made one of the worst speeches of my life. Foolishly, I was expecting debate, but the norm was prepared speeches of almost total uniformity of opinion.

Still, I''m delighted that there are still young people who want to be part of a debating society with a great tradition, and as an inveterate optimist I believe that one day the thought police will be overthrown and students will once again discover the pleasure of playing with ideas, rebelling against fashionable opinion and offending each other just for the hell of it.

Wendy Chamberlain recommended that the Prime Minister 'should consider whether this is the type of person that deserves to be sat around the cabinet table. However, given Boris Johnson''s own history of disgraceful remarks, I expect this will be another shameful issue he lets go unchallenged.'

I certainly hope so.



UK Home Secretary Priti Patel launches hunt for tech wizards to crack encryption

Priti Patel has launched a worldwide hunt for tech wizards to crack Facebook’s encryption, so Britons are protected from child abusers and terrorists.

The Home Secretary is to pay the brightest industry brains through a new fund to develop technology that will prevent sex abusers and terrorists from hiding their crimes under the cloak of end-to-end encryption on social media platforms.

Security chiefs say Facebook’s encryption plan will deny the company itself and law enforcement investigators access to the content of communications between paedophiles and terrorists, leaving thousands of children at risk of sexual abuse and Britain more open to terrorist plots.

The move comes as Ms Patel on Wednesday opens a summit in London of the G7’s interior ministers, where she will urge them to back an ultimatum to Facebook to abandon its encryption plans, or come up with a solution to maintain protections against harmful content online.

The Home Secretary accused Facebook and other tech giants of putting profit before user safety if they did not design protections into encrypted communications systems.

She said: “It is vital that the G7 and technology companies alike step up to protect children and victims from sick perpetrators and crack down on this abhorrent crime.

“The technology giants have a responsibility to protect their users online, and must take our children’s safety and security as seriously as they do their bottom line when designing new products.

“This new fund will bring together global experts to show the technology companies how they can responsibly implement end-to-end encryption without putting our children’s safety at greater risk.”

The new safety tech challenge fund will award five organisations from across the world up to £85,000 each to develop technologies to keep children safe when using end-to-end encrypted messaging services.

The money will be awarded based on their potential for innovative solutions to detect images or videos showing sexual abuse of children while ensuring end-to-end encryption is not compromised.

Facebook accounted for nearly 95 per cent of the 20 million online reports of child abuse last year, which were then passed via a central clearing house in the US to UK investigators, who were able to arrest 6,000 suspected paedophiles and safeguard 8,000 child victims as a result in Britain alone.

Security chiefs have warned that Facebook’s encryption could mean at least 70 per cent of the reports of child abuse images or messages will be “lost” to investigators.

Rob Jones, director of threat leadership, National Crime Agency (NCA), said he feared all the reports could disappear.

“The nub of the cyber tip regime is content and that allows a very fast dynamic law enforcement response,” he said.

“That content will go if the current [Facebook] privacy model lands in the way it’s been described. So all those tips are at risk, all of those tips."

That meant paedophiles “masquerading as children” in order to coerce them into sexual abuse would carry on as he feared encryption would no longer provide the “breaks and leads which allow us to go and get a search warrant, get through a door and rescue a child”.

The NCA estimates there are between 550,000 and 850,000 individuals in the UK who pose a sexual risk to children.

Technologies developed through the fund will be evaluated by independent academic experts to assess effectiveness and privacy safeguards. Applications for funding will open to organisations or individuals globally from Wednesday, and close on Oct 6 2021.

Comment from Reddit:

Waste of time and money. There is no way to do this without effectively compromising on end-to-end.
  1. You're not going to 'crack' end-to-end, that's mathematically impossible.

  2. You're not going to detect anything from outside the encryption, the data-stream is practically indistinguishable from random (that's the point).

  3. You're not going to detect anything from within, as that is effectively a man-in-the-middle and compromises encryption.

once again this is a politician without any actual knowledge of technology. Encryption is here to stay with all the good and the bad, and i won't have any 'oh won't you think of the children' arguments to have it compromised.


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