Issues of Encryption Around the World

Privacy advocates will have a difficult agenda this summer as they face legislative proposals that threaten the security of encrypted messaging in three key markets: the US, the UK, and the EU.

What will change, and how will it affect the internet? Read more in this article.

Learn more about encryption here.

The relevance of encryption

End-to-end encryption protects user conversations from being read by anyone, including telecom operators. It can ensure the safety of activists, political dissidents, and journalists. But it also makes messengers a desirable target for criminals such as hacker groups and drug traffickers.

The relevance of encryption

Therefore, the politicians of the United States, Great Britain, and the European Union are thinking about bills on the safety of children on the internet, the purpose of which is to provide law enforcement agencies with access to encryption in messengers such as WhatsApp and Signal.

The true comparison of these popular messengers.

So, this year, UK lawmakers are considering a bill on internet security that will allow the country’s regulator to search for content about sexualized child abuse, despite end-to-end encryption.

In the EU, meanwhile, politicians are considering a plan according to which any provider of encrypted services will be required to check messages, videos, and photos on their platforms for signs of child abuse in the materials and report it to the police.

On the other side of the ocean, in the United States, legislators at regular meetings also considered several bills on child safety with similar provisions, including the EARN It Act and the Stop CSAM Act.

Is creating a backdoor possible?

Creating a backdoor only for law enforcement agencies is technically impossible, according to encryption service providers. The backdoor cannot be limited only to investigators: it can also be used by cybercriminals, terrorists, and authoritarian regimes that monitor the personal conversations of users.

Practical attempts to simultaneously control content, and preserve privacy were made by Apple in 2021. Then the idea of scanning encrypted iCloud photos for signs of child abuse while maintaining confidentiality failed for reasons of serious privacy violation.

Encryption backdoors

Alternative opinion on the situation

Child safety advocates and law enforcement agencies are looking for help to solve the growing problem of the distribution of online materials about child abuse.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that between 2021 and 2022, the number of reports of pedophiles luring children online has increased by 82%.

International reaction

“Law enforcement tends to think that tech companies are just ignoring the problem and not doing anything, but it’s actually the opposite that’s true,” Andy Yen, CEO of encrypted email company Proton, told Axios.

Messengers using encryption are struggling to call for clarity of approaches in investigations of child abuse. These companies often use methods used by law enforcement officers to track criminal activity, but the disclosure of these methods at the same time can inform attackers.

At the same time, there is no panacea in the fight against child abuse materials, so lawmakers should instead consider a more holistic approach that will increase funding for investigators, said Greg Nojame, senior adviser and director of the Center for Security and Surveillance at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Conclusion: The question remains open

Will privacy advocates, faced with varying levels of complexity and stakeholders, be able to try to get their message across to lawmakers this summer?

So, in the EU, internal legal advisers have already warned politicians that their plan may be rejected in court.

In the US, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says online security is one of his priorities for the next three weeks before the August plenary recess.

And in the UK, several meetings of the House of Lords are scheduled this month for further consideration of the internet security bill.


Leave a Reply

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.