Brexit deal refers to 23-year-old software and out of date cyber security

The text of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal refers to 23-year-old web and email software and cyber-security methods which are decades out of date.

Netscape Communicator, last updated in 1997, and Mozilla Mail which was superceded in 1998 and ceased development in 2006, are referred to as “modern” internet software.

And the document recommends using outdated methods of encryption – 1024-bit RSA encryption and the SHA-1 hashing algorithm – which are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

It’s thought the passages were copied and pasted from previous EU treaties or laws – possibly a 2008 Council decision which uses the same text.

Boris Johnson will tomorrow ask MPs to vote through his eleventh-hour deal just days after the text was published.

They’ll have just a few hours to debate the text before they’re asked to vote on it – with any delay caused by amendments or problems likely to hurl the UK into a no-deal Brexit.

MPs were recalled to Parliament to vote on the deal tomorrow. The debate will start at 9.30am, and will be put to a vote at 2.30pm.

It will then head to the Lords for approval, before gaining royal ascent later tomorrow evening.

The entire process of Parliamentary scrutiny for the 1,200 page document, which includes references to 23-year-old software and dangerously outdated security measures, is likely to be completed in less than 12 hours.

Brexit trade deal talks were held up for months over two main issues.

Fishing: The two sides were split over two issues – quotas and access. In 2012-16, 56% of the fish in UK waters was caught by EU boats and 44% by UK boats. Britain wanted both more quota to catch its own fish, and ultimate control over who accesses the waters. Both sides agreed a five-and-a-half-year transition period before the UK has full sovereignty over its own waters. This was more than the three years originally demanded by the UK. Meanwhile the UK share of fish caught in its own waters will rise to reclaim 25% of fish currently caught by EU trawlers by 2026. Originally the UK had demanded 80% of the EU’s quotas in UK waters.

Level playing field: This means how closely we follow EU rules in the future, to stop us undercutting businesses on the continent. The UK wanted to be free to set its own laws in areas like labour, environment, climate, and subsidies for businesses (“state aid”). But the EU originally demanded “equivalence”, with the UK “mirroring” EU rules in future. In the end, the EU won its demand for both sides to have a “level playing field” in which neither side will “grant unfair subsidies or distort competition”. But the deal stops short of the EU’s original demands for the UK to mirror EU laws. Instead the PM said each side will be able “as sovereign equals” to take action if the other side undercuts their industry – but this should only be done infrequently. The PM admitted the EU would be able to slap tariffs on UK exports and vice versa if the UK is seen to undercut EU rules. But he insisted it would have to be “proportionate” and “subject to arbitration”.


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