Francis Maude asked whether or not MPs are permitted and able to install Pretty Good Privacy encryption on their Parliamentary computers. He was told that yes, they could if they wanted to, hwever if it restrcited suopport access to the machine it would mean no support from the Parliamentary ICT department. The response then said,
PICT has recently completed an evaluation of encryption software and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) was found to be incompatible with Parliament’s current version of VPN (remote access) software. Therefore, this product is not recommended for users of that service. As part of the evaluation PICT has identified another product that can be deployed to Members’ loaned machines by PICT at no cost to Members. The software can also be acquired by Members at their own cost, if they wish to have it installed on machines that they have purchased through PICT.So the first point here is that PGP is "incompatible" with the VPN software. This answer caused me to say "bollocks". Whilst I can theorise about possible ways this could be true, it seem highly unlikely and dubious.
What bothered me more though was the second part of the answer which stated there was some other encryptiopn product that MPs could use that is provided by the Parliamentary authorities. Would that be a product that the authorities could easily decrypt perhaps? Note that this is the paranoid moment.
I would hope perhaps that Francis Maude might follow up the question with a supplementary asking the PICT to provide the detailed technical explanation of how the VPN software is incompatible with what is an industry standard system that has been around for absolute years. The answer can always be placed in the Library of the House.