Earlier in the month, we reported that the French Minister of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve wanted an initiative against encrypted messaging apps. At the time Cazeneuve did not reveal the details of his proposal, but it was known he was planning to meet with German Minister of Interior Thomas de Maizière to discuss the matter. Now the two ministers have called on the European Commission to introduce legislation that will force providers of encrypted messaging apps to decrypt those messages to assist in investigations of terrorism.
Both ministers believe that encryption poses an obstacle to law enforcement during the investigation of terrorist activities. “Messages exchanged through certain apps such as Telegram must be decrypted and used as evidence by magistrates and investigators as part of legal proceedings,” Cazeneuve stated during a press conference. He also stated that new EU legislation could impose, “obligations on operators deemed uncooperative in the removal of illegal content or decryption of messages.”
Also speaking at the press conference, Maizière called for greater cooperation between the operators of messaging apps and law enforcement. He also lamented that, “Some terrorists and criminals are ahead of us on the technology front. That’s not right.”
This proposal has drawn criticism from the Computer & Communications Industry Association(CCIA), a lobbying group representing many large companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Christian Borggreen, the European director of the CCIA, stated, “It is certainly understandable that some would respond to recent tragedies with back doors and more government access. But weakened security ultimately leaves online systems more vulnerable to all types of attacks from terrorists to hackers.”
The advocacy group Access Now has also criticized the proposal. The group argues that, “encryption is an essential tool in protecting the integrity and privacy of all our online interactions.”
Does the proposal threaten the privacy of EU residents, or is it a necessary measure to prevent terrorism? Leave your comments below.