Defeating Encryption Is Not The Way To Defeat Terrorism

This morning I sent some tweets regarding Encryption. I subsequently had to delete them because they were retweeted out of context by those who wished to use them for political point scoring. Let me start by saying I haven’t and never will use any of my social media to push a political view – in fact as I write and in the run up to a general election I am still unsure who I will be voting for as I have misgivings towards all parties.

This article, like the original tweets, is NOT a political article.  It merely highlights my concern of the ignorance shown on the part of those who lead the country or indeed want to lead the country when it comes to technology.

The country, and everyone of every race, religion and background should be united against terrorism and indeed after the horrific events of yesterday and the last few weeks I am heartened to see evidence of this.  But once again the politicians of all parties seem to be missing the mark.  I’m unclear whether this is ignorance or capitalising public fear to push agendas for other reasons.

This morning on Peston On Sunday, Amber Rudd suggested once again that internet firms should work with the government to “limit end to end encryption that is being used by terrorists”.

Encryption is a positive thing to keep the internet secure. It prevents people from stealing your bank information, it ensures that trusted content is delivered to you as intended without being hijacked and changed, and it secures our information – our health records and our personal data.  Encryption protects us.

Rudd and other politicians across all parties appear to believe that encryption is allowing the terrorists to flourish. I don’t understand how.  The point of recruitment is to attract new members and you aren’t going to do that locked behind encryption because no one would be able to see the propaganda.

Encryption is not the reason for terrorism.  Psychology is. Terrorists use clever psychology to radicalise the weak minded.  It is the same psychology that is used in advertising to make us want and buy products, by politicians to make us vote for them, (see Trump), and by religions and cults to persuade us to join them.

Yes, technology has enabled this psychology but is merely a platform of distribution, no different to the megaphone or soapbox on a street corner, or flyers being handed out.  Technology is not to blame, and by restricting and changing the way we use technology will not combat the psychology used.

It is this psychology that needs to be examined, addressed, understood. Could we use the same psychology to reverse the impact of the radicalisation? I’m not a psychology expert and I don’t have answers but putting all our resources into stopping the process at the point of radicalisation is surely the route we should go down?

Politicians of all parties have shown a woeful misunderstanding when it comes to technology.  They have a responsibility to keep us safe, but whether this is deliberate or pure ignorance their actions should ring alarm bells with us all – after all, what other policies are they deciding upon and enforcing on us without truly understanding the facts and impact?