Feeds

Berners-Lee: 'Appalling and foolish' NSA spying HELPS CRIMINALS

Crooks rush in where spies boldly tread, says internet godhead

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, granddaddy of the internet, has attacked the NSA and GCHQ for their "appalling and foolish" cracking of online encryption.

He warned that spooks' attempts to break encryption standards played into the hands of cyber-criminals and rival states, saying spies were "naive" to think their own techniques would not be used against them.

“It's naïve to imagine that if you introduce a weakness into a system you will be the only one to use it,” said Berners-Lee, adding: “I'm very sympathetic to attempts to increase security against organised crime, but you have to distinguish yourself from the criminal.”

In an interview with the Guardian, the father of the internet called for a "full and frank public debate" on digital surveillance.

His comments came ahead of an unprecedented inquiry into surveillance, which will see chief spooks grilled in full public view this afternoon.

"Whistleblowers, and responsible media outlets that work with them, play an important role in society," Sir Tim said. "We need powerful agencies to combat criminal activity online – but any powerful agency needs checks and balances and, based on recent revelations, it seems the current system of checks and balances has failed."

The coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks "has been in the public interest and has uncovered many important issues which now need a full and frank public debate", he continued.

The heads of MI6, MI5 and GCHQ will be interview on live TV today for the first time. Starting at 2pm, Sir John Sawers, MI6 chief, Sir Iain Lobban, director of GCHQ, and Andrew Parker, director general of MI5, will appear in front of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

According to a statement on the ISC website, a slight delay (reportedly of two minutes) would be used on the video feed, just in case the spooks let something controversial slip out.

"The session will give an insight into the world of intelligence and the work the agencies do on behalf of the UK," the ISC said. "It represents a very significant step forward in terms of the openness and transparency of the agencies. The Committee will question the agency heads on the work of the agencies, their current priorities and the threats to the UK. Among other things it will cover the terrorist threat, regional instability and weapons proliferation, cyber security and espionage.”

"However,” continued the ISC, “since this is a public session, it will not cover details of intelligence capabilities or techniques, ongoing operations or sub judice matters."

Edward Snowden sparked the surveillance scandal after revealing the existence of an NSA spying scheme called PRISM and a comparable British one called TEMPORA, operated by GCHQ.

A group of 28 Tory MPs have written to the Guardian to protest against its continued publication of Snowden's revelations. The letter said publishing the secret material "runs the risk of compromising the vital work of the institutions, processes and people who protect the safety of this country". ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.