IBM crypto-chip fits with govt plans

Chip could be used to help government monitor your data.

Computer giant IBM has admitted its new crypto-chip could be developed and adapted to play an integral part in the government's planned legislation on access to private key encryption.

An IBM spokesman admitted the company sought the advice of more than a few government and independent organisations on the tricky issue of encryption. "IBM has met with the US Centre for Democracy and Technology," he said. "IBM currently works with an array of public and private entities, including many governments. We plan to continue these relations into the future and do not exclude the possibility of working with the UK government on this or any other technology."

IBM's new Secure Chip works by creating a one-time-only personal key that is stored in ROM and used for all encrypted communication. The possibility of placing some sort of black box on ISPs routers has been talked about as part of the government's e-surveillance plans, and the chip could find a home in one of them.

The spokesman from IBM strongly denied that the new embedded chip had been produced with any governmental policy in mind. "No, this technology was not prompted by any government. It was developed in the US as part of IBM's commitment to delivering the most secure, manageable PCs."

The government has released draft plans of the e-commerce bill, which requires computer users to hand over private keys to the police on demand or face up to two years in prison. The bill must still be approved by Parliament to become law.

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