The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act could be so much waste paper if a groundbreaking UK encryption project succeeds.
Mathematician Peter Fairbrother has launched a project called M-o-o-t, which would make it physically impossible to surrender encryption keys - or for security services to track e-mails. Together with an anonymous group of encryption specialists and civil liberties activists, Fairbrother has launched a software project that aims to ship its first product in time for the June 2001 activation date of the RIP Act.
Fairbrother told Computer Weekly: "It is technically impossible to have an effective law, because of the state of cryptography. RIP says you have to give a key but you can use an ephemeral key - where you never knew what the key was.
"The thing that amazes me is that the Government is putting in laws that a simple hobby cryptographer can overcome," said Fairbrother.
M-o-o-t will ship as a CD-Rom that shuts down the operating system on a desktop PC and provides its own operating system, cryptography and a set of free productivity applications.
"M-o-o-t doesn't use any local storage," said Fair-brother, "so if police seize your computer there will be nothing on it that breaks the RIP Act." See www.m-o-o-t.org