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Jimmy Wales hits back at David Cameron encryption comments

Jimmy Wales has criticised comments made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron arguing against the use of encryption technologies.

The Wikipedia founder said that limiting encryption would not only be counterproductive to a secure world wide web but would also prove impractical.

Read more: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales “London is a better place to live than Silicon Valley”

"It's too late, David. This is not going to happen. It is not feasible in any sense of the word for the UK to ban end-to-end encryption. It's a completely moronic and stupid thing to do,” Wales explained during his speech at the IP Expo event in London. "All major traffic is going to be encrypted very soon and that's a very good thing when you think of all of the issues around stolen credit card numbers and people sniffing networks, stolen passwords and identity theft.”

Wales cited the revelations made by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden in 2013 as being the catalyst for greater public discussion regarding online privacy, adding that that "the golden age of spying on the public" is coming to an end.

However, his speech also referenced a number of other online issues facing the world today. He claimed that Internet censorship deprives citizens of a “fundamental human right” by blocking access to knowledge. Draconian government programmes like those implemented in China have seen websites like Wikipedia blocked for many years.

Read more: MI5 boss wants to ban encrypted communication apps

As well as Mr Cameron, the Director-General of the British Security Service Andrew Parker has also called for the banning of messaging apps that use encrypted communications, claiming that they could be used by terrorists to plan attacks. As is often the case with online technologies, the government stresses the importance of security, while the wider public are concerned that this will be used as an excuse to curtail individual privacy.

Barclay Ballard
Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.