Europe looks to crack open data encryption on messaging services – tech2.org

Europe looks to crack open data encryption on messaging services


WhatsApp and Messenger are extremely popular messaging apps.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

The EU appears to be doing groundwork for a move against the data obtained with end-to-end encryption following terrorist attacks in Paris, Vienna and Nice.

In a joint statement released earlier this month, home affairs ministers from EU member states called on heads of state to “consider the matter of data encryption so that digital evidence could be legally collected and To be used by competent authorities. ”

The statement comes after several EU internal documents on encryption were leaked. The one, originally published by Politico, had measures against end-to-end encryption as a way to fight child crime, suggesting that “the fight against this type of illegal content is the least controversial Has been. “

End-to-end encryption is a security tool used by some apps and services – including WhatsApp, Signal and Facebook Messenger – to provide a greater level of privacy.

Messages sent using this tool are encrypted before they leave the sender’s phone or computer, with a unique one for devices on both ends of an exchange. Even if they are intercepted during transmission by a hacker or government agency, the messages are inaccessible, as the only devices capable of decoding them belong to the sender and intended recipient.

This secrecy becomes a problem for state actors trying to monitor criminal communications: the ability to intercept illegal messages is useful only when you can actually read them.

European Union lawmakers have long looked for a fair balance between secrecy and police agencies’ ability to do their work, a European Union spokesperson told CNBC.

Member states have, on numerous occasions, called for “solutions that allow law enforcement and other competent authorities to have legitimate access to digital evidence, without prohibiting or weakening encryption.”

As noted in the July Security Union Strategy, Block is in favor of an approach that “maintains the effectiveness of encryption in protecting privacy and communications, while also providing an effective response to serious crime and terrorism.” is.”

The EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerkov has sought to do so in favor of the “back-door” counterpart by avoiding a “back-door” approach, under which he works with third parties, without consent. Of encryption provider.

Researcher Ray Walsh of privacy education and review site Pro-Privacy says this approach is impossible. “No matter whether you choose to call a purposefully developed secondary access point ‘front-door’ or backdoor, the result is the elimination of data ownership and access control that is essentially the result of a fundamental vulnerability, “He told CNBC.

He said, “Ministers want to make their cake and eat it, and they do not understand, or want to admit, that it is impossible and will result in vulnerability by design.”

“If such a law was passed, it would be harmful to the general public.”

Alex Clarkson, a lecturer in German and European and International Studies at the German College London, points out that the measures being discussed are “a constant part of the governments’ agenda for some time.”

Both he and Walsh insist that they remain in the discussion at this stage.

Clarkson proposes only “what bureaucracy does,” a part of a political “wish list” made up of a whole range of options. “Some parts of these systems will have an impulse towards these things, and another part of the system will check against it, and balance against it,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean they make those choices.”

Still, Walsh is careful that the “back-door” approach is up for debate. “It stands to create problems for national security and for data privacy, without actually reducing the possibility that criminals will find secret methods of communication, either through the dark web or through other encrypted means . ”

“Being able to communicate freely and privately is a fundamental human right in any free and open society,” he says. “Removing citizens’ ability to share information without seeing it will lead to greater levels of self-censorship and the inability of people to exercise their freedom of expression.”

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