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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wikipedia Could Encrypt All British Connections

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has recently admitted that the portal may have to encrypt all incoming UK-based connections in case Snooper’s Chart comes into effect.

The law in question was designed to track Internet, text, and e-mail communications within the country. That’s why Jimmy Wales warned that it would have disastrous effects for the UK’s communications. In addition, he pointed that the restrictive regime of the bill pales in comparison to others, like China or Iran. That’s’ why Wikipedia will inevitably have to encrypt the connections if Snooper’s Chart is passed as law. Indeed, if the administration of the online encyclopedia finds that the British Internet service providers have to keep track of every single web page a user reads at Wikipedia, they would immediately move to a default of encrypting all communication to the United Kingdom.

Jimmy Wales also pointed out that the encryption would most likely push the government to “hack” users’ Internet activities, but it isn’t something a civilized democracy wants to be involved with. Indeed, the online industry is coming with evidence to show that this law could create opportunities for hackers and various “malicious agents” to gain access to sensitive information about almost anyone who uses Internet.

In fact, they aren’t the only ones to highlight this problem. For instance, the London Internet Exchange has already told the MPs that there are major concerns about this law, because it can create a so-called “profiling engine”: detailed profiles will be created on everyone surfing the web, while allowing comprehensive data mining. Such database will have to be protected, because if malicious 3rd parties get their hands on it, national security will be in danger.

In case Snooper’s Chart passes, all British broadband providers and phone providers will have to retain and keep for a period of one year the “traffic data” of every citizen’s online, text and mobile phone use.

Finally, the founder of the online encyclopedia warned that encrypting British connections may not stop just at its service, but could be applied by other popular websites, like Facebook and Google. It is unclear whether the country is ready to take such a huge risk, let alone that broadband providers and their users may have a say in this, after all.

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