Tech Industry Warns Against French-German Plans To Weaken Encryption

BY Heather Greenfield
August 23, 2016

Brussels, BELGIUM — French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, and German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière today called for a range of European security-related initiatives in Paris.  The ministers want their proposals discussed by the EU Heads of State and Government on 16 September.

Cazeneuve welcomed the “undeniable progress” made by Internet operators to quickly remove “terrorist propaganda” and praised encryption for “securing communication, including by States” in his statement.

Cazeneuve and de Maizière did however call for EU legislation to clarify “the rights and obligations of all operators offering products or telecommunications or Internet services in the EU”.  The ministers want to impose new “obligations on operators deemed uncooperative in the removal of illegal content or decryption of messages.”

Meanwhile, a new European Commission proposal could undermine the confidentiality of encrypted communication.  A new “ePrivacy proposal”, expect end of this year, would likely include a loophole for governments to request access to encrypted data.

Earlier this year, the Computer & Communications Industry Association joined an open letter with experts, companies, and organizations in more than 35 countries that asks world leaders to support strong encryption and to reject any law, policy, or mandate that would undermine digital security.

The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe Director, Christian Borggreen:

“We are worried that EU proposals can allow governments to challenge end-to-end encryption and thus threaten the security and confidentiality of Europeans’ communications.”

“It is certainly understandable that some would respond to recent tragedies with backdoors and more government access.  But weakened security ultimately leaves online systems more vulnerable to all types of attacks from terrorists to hackers.  This should be a time to increase security—not weaken it.”

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