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UK govt new encryption system only works with MS kit

Isn't it time someone looked at this relationship?

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The UK government's increasing reliance on Microsoft software has been demonstrated yet again with leaked documents regarding its new email encryption system. The documents - available on the cryptome.org site here - show that the PGP setup will only work with Microsoft OSes and Microsoft's browser.

With regard to email programs, it will work with just Lotus Notes, Eudora and Microsoft's Outlook products.

We revealed a fortnight ago that the government was planning a new email encryption system based on Network Associates PGP security. It's to be called PGP HMG.

The government is obviously not looking to upgrade its OSes to Windows XP in the near future, since the PGP system requires Windows 95, 98 or NT4. Although, MS will no doubt help with any future compatibility problems.

It needs Internet Explorer 4.0.1 or greater. Then Outlook 97/98 or Outlook Express 4x and 5x. The only non-MS kit it will work on is Lotus Notes 4.5, 4.6 and 5.0 and Qualcomm Eudora 4.x.

This latest document is evidence that the government is becoming worryingly close to the Beast of Redmond. Tony Blair is known to refer to Bill Gates on this technology stuff, plus Microsoft is taking a bigger and bigger stake in New Labour's e-government plan. Recently, we reported that the new government gateway site that it hopes will be the first port of call for all UK citizens only works with Internet Explorer.

And then during the election, Blair decided to launch his business manifesto at Microsoft's UK HQ in Reading. (He was usurped by MS using the event to publicise Windows XP.)

We're not saying that there is anything dodgy going on but surely this cosy relationship should be subject to Parliamentary review. While many civil servants no doubt use Windows and Explorer, shouldn't a government-wide plan be a little more inclusive?

And we haven't even mentioned the security concerns that surround all Microsoft kit. Until now that is. ®

Related Link

Download the PGP data here

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MS-built UK 'Government Gateway' locks out non-MS browsers

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