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Cyber Rights Group Publishes Letter to IBM and BT

Cyber Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) has published a letter it sent to IBM and BT asking the two companies to limit their support for the UK government's controversial e-commerce policy.

The letter, sent August 5 to Lou Gerstner, chairman and CEO of IBM, and Peter Bonfield, chief executive of BT, welcomes the removal of "the immediate threat of key escrow," but goes on to warn about the "worrying provisions" that remain for government access to decryption keys.

Cyber Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) accepts that the need will arise for government investigators to decrypt certain texts, working within clear legal safeguards. But it objects strongly to provisions that require the revelation of decryption keys -- which it argues could put the privacy of innocent individuals at risk.

The letter explains that "a criminal can send a message to an innocent party that might then become the target of a decryption order. In this situation an innocent and entirely law abiding recipient of a decryption order may be forced to hand over decryption keys that are being used to protect their entire privacy, safety and security..."

Cyber Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) calls the government's proposed measures "pernicious and draconian," and says if implemented they will "convert honest, law abiding citizens into criminals."

Both IBM and BT were closely consulted in the preparation of the Government's e-commerce proposals, and for that reason have been targeted by the cyber rights group.

The letter is signed by Dr Brian Gladman, Technical Policy Advisor, Yaman Akdeniz, Director, Nicholas Bohm, E-Commerce Policy Adviser, Professor Clive Walker, Deputy Director, and Dr. Louise Ellison, Deputy Director of Cyber Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK).