EU looks to create ‘back doors’ to allow the member states to access people’s private messages
November 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Union (EU) is looking to create “back doors” which would allow government policing agencies the ability to access people’s private messages posted on popular messaging applications such as Facebook’s Messenger, Signal, WhatsApp, and others.
According to an alleged internal document made public titled “Draft Council Resolution on Encryption,”the EU draft resolution would set in motion the potential chipping away of so-called “end-to-end” encryption on messaging apps.
The draft resolution is dated November 6 and was posted and shared by the Austrian public broadcaster Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF).
While the document acknowledges that privacy using encryption is a “necessary means of protecting fundamental rights and the digital security of governments, industry and society,” it also states that encryption has “hindered law enforcement agencies ability to combat terrorism, organised crime, child sexual abuse, and other cybercrime.”
“For competent authorities, access to electronic evidence is not only essential to conduct successful investigations and thereby bring criminals to justice, but also to protect victims and help ensure security,” the draft resolution reads.
End-to-end encryption stops any potential entity other than the one who sent the message and its recipient from viewing messages.
The ORF report notes that the draft resolution, which was addressed from the Presidency of the Council of the European Union to eight delegations, was classified as “Limite,” meaning it is not available to the public.
The draft resolution goes on to state that the EU is looking at actively discussing “with the technology industry” while “associating research and academia,” to ensure the “continued implementation and use of strong encryption technology.”
However, the draft resolution then states that “Competent authorities” must be allowed to access to data in a “lawful and targeted manner, in full respect of fundamental rights and the data protection regime, while upholding cybersecurity.”
“Technical solutions for gaining access to encrypted data must comply with the principles of legality, transparency, necessity and proportionality.”
Despite a call in the resolution to allow “competent authorities” the ability to access private personal data on messaging apps, it concludes by stating that since “there is no single way of achieving the set goals,” and that governments along with industry and academia all need to “work together to strategically create this balance.”
The Five Eyes intelligence alliance, made up of the UK, Canada, US, Australia, and New Zealand, and who in May warned that China lied to the world about coronavirus, said in October that tech manufacturers should include “backdoors” into their products.
Some politicians and activist groups have blasted the idea of the EU trying in any way to limit the encryption ability of private messaging apps.
Lord Daniel Moylan from the United Kingdom (UK) blasted the draft resolution in a tweet posted on November 8, saying it was a good thing the U.K. left the EU.
“Thank God we got out. It would have been excruciating hearing Remainers defend this,” wrote Moylan on Twitter with a link to the report.
Also taking aim at the draft resolution was the UK group Big Brother Watch, who wrote on Twitter, “Make no mistake: they are trying to ban the right to a private conversation.”
Make no mistake: they are trying to ban the right to a private conversation. https://t.co/NjcZgfCVRr— Big Brother Watch (@BigBrotherWatch) November 9, 2020
In a report published on the site IT Pro, Ray Walsh, who works as a digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy, said that the EU move to “ban encryption” from popular messaging applications would be “a massive threat to data privacy as we know it.”
“It is a disappointing change in approach from the EU which has previously been pro-privacy for European citizens,” said Walsh. The IT expert said that not only is breaking encryption “a threat to national security, but that “the ability to communicate privately is a vital part of any free society.”
The draft document states that the resolution will be presented to the Council of Permanent Representatives of the EU towards the end of November, and could even pass without any debate, as it is classified as an “I-item.”
To become law, the European Commission needs to take up the resolution, however, and it remains uncertain if this will be done.