Happy Ed Balls day, one and all

We just can't leave that infamous tweet alone.

Two years ago today, Ed Balls tweeted his own name:

It was a name search gone awry. But, crucially, the Shadow Chancellor never deleted it, so 15,000 of us have now enjoyed retweeting it, and a meme was born. Today, it is celebrated:

The man himself gave an interview to the Mirror yesterday, in which he expressed his bafflement at people's fondness for tweeting his name (with a dig at Osborne thrown in for good measure):

I think the best thing I can do is not look at Twitter and bury my head in the sand - like George Osborne on the economy.

His tweet made "news":

Google got in on the act (not really):

It even spread off Twitter into the real world:

And people have inserted it into the world of cartoons:

[If this kind of thing floats your boat, Buzzfeed has a pretty exhaustive list.]

As well as people just tweeting "Ed Balls" (and trust me, there will be lots of those today), it spawned copycat tweets:

There are even now "Ed Balls" hipsters:

And those who express their enjoyment through song:

Twitter will most likely feel like this today:

Have we reached "Peak Ed Balls"? The Guardian advises going for a walk in the sunshine instead, which might not be a bad idea...

Ed Balls, obvs. Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

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The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism

Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers.

The UK has endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 7 July 2005 and the threat level has been raised to "critical" for the first time in a decade. Though election campaigning has been suspended, the debate over potential new powers has already begun.

Today's Sun reports that the Conservatives will seek to force technology companies to hand over encrypted messages to the police and security services. The new Technical Capability Notices were proposed by Amber Rudd following the Westminster terrorist attack and a month-long consultation closed last week. A Tory minister told the Sun: "We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now. The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."

Put that way, the plan sounds reasonable (orders would be approved by the home secretary and a senior judge). But there are irrefutable problems. Encryption means tech firms such as WhatsApp and Apple can't simply "hand over" suspect messages - they can't access them at all. The technology is designed precisely so that conversations are genuinely private (unless a suspect's device is obtained or hacked into). Were companies to create an encryption "backdoor", as the government proposes, they would also create new opportunities for criminals and cyberhackers (as in the case of the recent NHS attack).

Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security, told the New Statesman's Will Dunn earlier this year: "Nobody in this organisation or our parent organisation will ever ask for a 'back door' in a large-scale encryption system, because it's dumb."

But there is a more profound problem: once created, a technology cannot be uninvented. Should large tech firms end encryption, terrorists will merely turn to other, lesser-known platforms. The only means of barring UK citizens from using the service would be a Chinese-style "great firewall", cutting Britain off from the rest of the internet. In 2015, before entering the cabinet, Brexit Secretary David Davis warned of ending encryption: "Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about."

Labour's manifesto pledged to "provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe." But added: "We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties". The Liberal Democrats have vowed to "oppose Conservative attempts to undermine encryption."

But with a large Conservative majority inevitable, according to polls, ministers will be confident of winning parliamentary support for the plan. Only a rebellion led by Davis-esque liberals is likely to stop them.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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