Group wants encryption bans overturned

The Jericho Forum pledges to lobby countries such as China to relax restrictions on encryption, saying such controls hinder e-commerce.

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An international security consortium plans to push governments around the world to withdraw restrictions on the use of encryption.

Countries including China, Israel, Russia and Saudi Arabia have strict rules governing the use of encryption tools, and in some cases they have banned these tools.

The Jericho Forum, which is looking to move away from the perimeter model for cybersecurity toward an approach that would make data totally secure, hinted that such policies could cause problems for e-commerce.

The Jericho Forum, whose membership includes many chief security officers from FTSE 100 companies, will push for the removal of encryption restrictions within the next three to five years.

"In industrialized countries, it's not a problem; the real problem comes from places like China," said Nick Bleech, a member of the Jericho Forum and an IT security director for Rolls Royce. "But the Chinese government is extremely keen to further new development."

"This is a big problem for us," he noted. "We have 200 locations (around the world)...We can solve this. But I don't think we'll come up with a universal solution that will solve everything. We don't have the clout to do that yet."

Bleech said that governments usually respect one another's encryption policies and make concessions for one another.

"We've got to lobby governments across borders, find out what restrictions there are and close them," he said. "At the moment, it is a variable nightmare."

Bleech was speaking at Infosecurity 2005, which ends on Thursday.

Dan Ilett of ZDNet UK reported from London.