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04 March 2009, 14:51

Use of PGP by UK MPs is "not recommended"

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A written question asking if MPs could install PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption on their computers in the Houses Of Parliament has received an unhelpful answer from the House authorities.

PICT, the Parliamentary ICT department has told MP's that they recommend PGP should not be installed. The explanation given to Francis Maude was that PGP was "found to be incompatible with Parliament's current version of VPN (remote access) software" and that it "is not recommended for users of that service". Without naming any product names, Nick Harvey, responding on behalf of the House of Commons Commission, said PICT "has identified another product that can be deployed to Members' loaned machines by PICT".

PICT also reserves the right to remove any software "found to interfere with the proper operation of the hardware concerned, or the parliamentary network". Some political bloggers have suggested that the VPN reasoning is "highly unlikely" and hope that Francis Maude asks for a detailed explanation as to why VPN software is incompatible with PGP. There appears to be no reason why a VPN, the network transport layer, should be susceptible to interference from a standalone cryptography application.


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