Towards the ban of encryption

A BBC report pushed Italy into international hype, for Mr. Maroni (Lega Nord) Ministry of Home Affairs, backed by a group of public prosecutors, started an aggressive campaign against Skype, claiming that organized crime uses this software to protect their illegal activities. This is a clear shift towards encryption’s outlawing – or limitation of its use – that will negatively affects both human rights and private sector activities.

Italy has a “strong” tradition in trying to ban encryption. Key recovery and/or Key Escrow related issues were debated at least since 1995 A draft of one of the many amendments (not included in the final text) of copyright law known as “legge Urbani” tried to establish the principle that using encryption to protect P2P connection deserved a stronger punishment. If passed, this would have been the first provision outlawing the use of encryption.

The problem, nevertheless, is not limited to Skype. Mr. Maroni, launched a global initiative to “seize” technology from users. He first asked Telcos to provide their customers with static IP only (to better identify persons), then he pushed for the adoption of a National DNA Database because he got “reliable information” that in Italy there is a criminal mob dealing with human organs selling, then – all of a sudden – he become concerned about Skype…

It is unlikely that Mr. Maroni claims hide a “global plot” to kill human right. The truth is more sad: magistrates have scarce investigative resources, untrained law enforcement officer (not all, of course), insufficient monies, an erroneous belief that technology-based investigation is a good shortcut.
Basically, they’re scared by technology and – in a Pavlovian mood – their automated reaction to things like Skype is “forbid”, “ban”, “takeover”.

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