EU Draft Proposal Seeks to Access Data from End-to-end Encryption Platforms

The European Union (EU) could soon limit end-to-end encryption according to a draft leaked by the German Presidency, which seeks to increase the monitoring efficiency by Intelligence authorities and police.

This development comes in the wake of Vienna’s terrorist attack that took 4 lives and left 23 others with injuries. The news, which was initially reported by an Austrian media dubbed ‘FM4’, noted concerns on the accessibility of data from encrypted platforms like WhatsApp and Signal.

According to a draft deciphered by the Associated Press, this proposed piece will harmonize the process of accessing encrypted data,

“Competent authorities must be able to access data in a lawful and targeted manner, in full respect of fundamental rights and the data protection regime, while upholding cybersecurity.”

The draft, which is dated Nov 6, goes on to highlight those technical solutions to enable data access in encrypted platforms must be in line ‘with the principles of legality, transparency, necessity, and proportionality.’ However, it is quite noteworthy that the draft proposal does not call for total encryption; instead, it is set to initiate an exploratory phase that will guide stakeholders, including the EU, towards adopting favorable legislation in matters of end-to-end encryption.

Activists Decry the Move

As expected, the draft has already been met with opposition from rights activists who place fundamental importance on privacy and security. In fact, a German lawmaker Anke Domscheit-Berg, a left-wing politician, has voiced their concerns about the proposed draft. The lawmaker accused EU governments of masking under the extremism narrative to introduce higher surveillance within their jurisdictions.

According to Anke, the logic of accessing end-to-end encryption platforms does not make sense. He gave this example to support the argument,

“Anyone who finds an open back door into my house can enter it; the same is true for back doors in software …

The proposed EU regulation is an attack on the integrity of digital infrastructure and, therefore, hazardous.”

It appears he is not the only one who has called out the draft proposal; other stakeholders that have voiced their opinions against it include the executive director of Open Privacy Sarah Jamie Lewis and the director of Cybersecurity at Electronic Frontier Foundation, Eva Galperin. With the document set for presentation to the EU council on Nov 19, only time will tell if this draft will be adopted into law by member countries.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

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