What is the difference between today's apparent press release from the Home Office
Joint Statement by Alistair Darling and David Blunkett
Reference: Stat059/2003 - Date: 13 Jan 2004 11:42
"Published: 13 Jan 2004"
and this one, over 2 weeks ago from the Department of Transport ?
Joint statement by Alistair Darling and David Blunkett
published 28th December 2003
None so far as we can see. Neither statement or press release is Digitally Signed, although the content publishing system used by the Home Office has given its press release a misleading date and time stamp.
Why is this important ? Simply because under the proposed Civil Contingencies Bill 2004, a simple statement about a "security threat" to the United Kingdom by either of these two Ministers (Home Office or Department of Transport) would be enough to declare a State of Emergency, suspend civil rights, allow for forced evacuarions, confiscation or destruction of property without compensation, the banning street protests or demonstrations, censorship of the press, electronic communications blackouts etc.
How are we meant to know that an important Ministerial Statement or Press Release is genuine and not a hoax, especially during a crisis or emergency, without the use of a Publc Key Infrastructure for Digital Signatures and Timestamps ?
In fact, the Civil Contingencies Bill 2004 is still proposing that Oral orders by a Minister would be enough to declare a State of Emergency, although the published Bill has been amended slightly to require that written order be sent as soon as practicable.
With modern technology now available for spoofing and faking the voices of politicians or military leaders (a technology being taken up by Hollywood) the dangers of fake or hoax oral orders by Ministers are evident.