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The United Nations has warned against measures being proposed by the UK and other countries that could create something of a back door for internet encryption.

The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has already outlined an intention to implement tougher internet surveillance powers, with a controversial approach that would give the government access to secure and encrypted communications.  

In a new report, the UN's Special Rapporteur for Protecting and Promoting Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, warned the measures could be “weakening everyone’s online security“.

Encryption is commonly used in many internet services, particularly financial transactions and email security.

Such measures are being used by almost every internet user, with the British government growing concerned that it may also be hiding the malicious activities of criminals and terrorists.

Yet Mr Kaye claimed any weakening of encryption standards would leave everyone in the UK at risk.

He added: “Some call for efforts to weaken or compromise encryption standards such that only governments may enjoy access to encrypted communications. However, compromised encryption cannot be kept secret from those with the skill to find and exploit the weak points, whether State or non-State, legitimate or criminal.

"It is a seemingly universal position among technologists that there is no special access that can be made available only to government authorities, even ones that, in principle, have the public interest in mind. In the contemporary technological environment, intentionally compromising encryption, even for arguably legitimate purposes, weakens everyone’s security online.”

Mr Kaye's report added that governments in the UK and across Europe already have powers in place to work against criminals, such as wiretapping, geo-location and tracking, data-mining and even traditional physical surveillance.

As such, he concluded that any alteration in encryption standards would be unnecessary and could even pose a threat to freedom of expression.

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