Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales slams government’s ‘moronic’ encryption rhetoric

The future of the internet is encrypted, says Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has slammed the UK government and prime minister David Cameron for comments suggesting it will try to curb the use of encryption technologies.

Cameron has suggested that the government will look to limit the use of tools on services like Snapchat and WhatsApp that are used to hide communications, but Wales said this was a ridiculous notion.

“It’s too late, David. This is not going to happen. The genie is out of the bottle,” Wales said, while speaking at the IP Expo event in London.

“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. We all have a very strong interest in a safe and secure internet.”

He noted that as more websites move towards SSL encryption technology it is making it easier for people to operate online free from surveillance.

“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,” he said.

“While a lot of activists thought this was a problem initially, for the big players it was costly to encrypt every page of a website.”

Wikipedia recently moved to an SSL-everywhere model. “Everywhere in the world you go to Wikipedia there is an encrypted connection,” said Wales.

“Cyber security is on the rise and that is an incredibly good thing. We should keep up pressure as consumers on all internet companies to keep our data safe and keep our communications secure.”

Wales said this was a major change in the last few years and that “the golden age of spying on the public” is coming to an end thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden.

“A lot of privacy activists and security experts were complaining about this but no-one was really listening. Today that has changed very quickly,” he added.

“As a direct result of the Snowden revelations consumers have become aware of cyber security issues. People in general have a better understanding that we need a safe and secure internet.

“It is a fundamental public good and is something that every government should be diligently working on.”

Wales noted, though, that some nations remain problematic with web freedoms and monitoring, with China cited as one nation where Wikipedia frequently faces problems.

“One of the biggest problems is direct censorship. We made it a principle that we will never cooperate with censorship of Wikipedia,” he said.

“We argue that access to knowledge is a fundamental human right and that it would be inappropriate for us, given our mission to give free knowledge to all, to ever participate in government censorship.”

Wikipedia is currently the 50th most popular website in China, which Wales said is a low number for the service which is due to the website being blocked for a number of years in the country.

Wales’s comments on the government’s encryption plans follow on from Box telling V3 they thought the notion of banning encryption technology was “commercially naive” given its importance to business use.

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7 October 2015 | 1:43 pm – Source: v3.co.uk

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