Cypherpunks aim to torpedo RIP key seizure plan

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Thu May 30 09:09:31 EDT 2002

Cypherpunks aim to torpedo RIP key seizure plan
By John Leyden
Posted: 29/05/2002 at 15:10 GMT

Privacy activists plan to undermine forthcoming UK Government regulations
on the surrender of encryption keys through the release of an open-source
cryptography project, called m-o-o-t.

The Home Office hopes to publish a much delayed draft Code of Practice for
part three of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act, which deals
with procedures for law enforcer to gain access to encryption keys or
plain-text versions of scrambled messages, next month.

This was always the most controversial part of the Act, which the backers
of m-o-o-t hope to defeat along with other similar government schemes
throughout the world.

They state that their aim is "to defeat RIP Act Part 3 and make it look
silly, and to allow UK citizens to communicate and to store information
without worrying about it."

"We are doing this so people can be private elsewhere than in our heads. We
object to the idea that people should not be allowed to seek privacy from
governments," the group's mission statement says.

M-o-o-t seeks to defeat forthcoming RIP Act powers by storing encryption
keys and data overseas, outside government jurisdiction and protected by
steganographic techniques.

The group plans to ship M-o-o-t on CD. It is an alternative operating
system that doesn't use local storage. That way, the group says, if your
computer is seized by police, there will be nothing for them to find.

In an interview with New Scientist Peter Fairbrother, a mathematician and
computer enthusiast working on the project, explained that "communication
will only be possible with other M-o-o-t users using keys that expire after
a single use. 'Master' encryption keys will be kept on the remote servers
in a format that makes it impossible to distinguish them from random data
without the correct password."

The Home Office have said that the project would provide criminals and
terrorists with a means to avoid detection, but Fairbrother said there are
already such tools and told that New Scientist "The benefits far outweigh
the problems."

The group has posted its work-to-date online for peer review and discussion. ®

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

The Cryptography Mailing List
Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to majordomo at

More information about the cryptography mailing list