Brexit deal recommends using long-dead software

(Image credit: Image Credit: daniel_diaz_bardillo / Pixabay)

It has been noticed that the new Brexit trade deal agreement makes a few technology faux-pas, including references to long-defunct computer programs. It has been suggested that the document, which is more than 1,200 pages long, has perhaps made use of the copy and paste functions a bit too liberally, resulting in the embarrassing inclusion of digital tools that are no longer in use.

Most notably, the Brexit agreement makes mention of "modern e-mail software packages including Outlook, Mozilla Mail as well as Netscape Communicator 4.x." Although Outlook is still going strong, both Mozilla Mail and Netscape Communicator are no longer in existence, with the final major release of the latter program coming in 1997.

Furthermore, the document recommends using 1024-bit RSA encryption and the SHA-1 hashing algorithm, despite the fact that both security protocols are now outdated and at risk of cyberattack. Ironically, the text that includes these references may, in fact, have been taken directly from a 2008 EU law document, which would explain some of the outdated examples.

Time to move on

While the mention of no longer relevant computer software is unlikely to have any bearing on the digital approach taken by the UK Government, it still represents another embarrassing incident in a process that has now taken an inordinate amount of government resources.

Although the Brexit process has taken the best part of four years to conclude following the UK’s momentous vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, it still clearly left the writers of the final trade agreement without enough time to check through their work for any outdated terminology.

With the Home Office insisting that it only uses the “latest technology” to carry out its work, most people in the UK will simply be hoping that the country can start looking forward to a time where the Brexit process no longer dominates the headlines.


Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.