Stark differences in EU and UK propsals on end-to-end encryption citing terrorism concerns


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The UK government had to face a major setback with EU’s proposal recently in which it has called for implementation of end-to-end encryption and ban on encryption backdoors across all forms of digital communication, irrespective of their existing priviledges.

The said proposal comes as a blow for the UK government, which is endeavouring to curb the use of encrypted communications by rebels following four terrorist attacks that took place in London over the past few months.

Usually, technology companies utilize end-to-end encryption to secure the information between the user and the service provider, which means that information cannot be intercepted by any other user including the originating tech company itself.

On the other hand, encryption backdoors will also allow selected users like the company or law enforcement officials to access a user’s information – both offline and online.

In the wake of increasing terrorist attacks across the globe, strengthening of web security using encryption could result in vital ramifications for the technology companies, users and law enforcement.

The European committee’s proposal comes in the midst of an ongoing debate about striking the right balance between privacy and security. Many experts are of the opinion that the need of the hour is to restrain online radicalization.

The said draft regulation further adds:

“When encryption of electronic communications data is used, decryption, reverse engineering or monitoring of such communications shall be prohibited.

Member States shall not impose any obligations on electronic communications service providers that would result in the weakening of the security and encryption of their networks and services”.

Even though the proposal is in stark contrast to the one forwarded by the UK government, the members of the European Parliament feel that encryption backdoor leads to poor personal data privacy.

The attempt to amend Article Seven of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights will only become a law and see the light of day if approved by the European Council and Parliament.

Despite the fact that encryption backdoors will help authorities to curtail illegal activities, it could also be exploited by extremists as they could easily access private information of citizens at large.

Nevertheless, if the proposal takes shape of a law, it could mean that the use of encryption loopholes by law enforcement agency will soon become history.

Source: Wired

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