In a bid to expand their surveillance capabilities, the Five Eyes governments (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) have launched a campaign against encryption.
The governments argue that encryption makes it difficult for law enforcement to investigate crimes, particularly child sexual abuse. However, privacy advocates warn that weakening encryption would have a devastating impact on human rights and security.
The Five Eyes governments are considering a number of anti-encryption proposals, including creating encryption backdoors or otherwise weakening encryption in critical services; and forcing communication service providers to scan messages before they are sent.
They are also considering imposing Codes of Practice that would effectively require companies to circumvent or backdoor encrypted communication services; and giving the government unprecedented authority to squelch innovations in communications security.
These proposals would give the Five Eyes governments unprecedented access to private communications, not only of their citizens but also of people all over the world. This would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and association, and would make it easier for governments to target dissidents and minorities.
In addition, weakening encryption would make everyone more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Criminals and foreign governments would be able to exploit encryption backdoors to steal data and launch attacks. Even if the Five Eyes governments manage to implement anti-encryption measures without compromising security, they would be setting a dangerous precedent for other countries, including authoritarian regimes.
Privacy advocates are urging the Five Eyes governments to reconsider their anti-encryption campaign. They argue that there are better ways to investigate crimes and protect children without weakening encryption. For example, governments can invest in more training for law enforcement on how to investigate encrypted communications. They can also work with tech companies to develop new tools and technologies to help investigate crimes without compromising encryption.
The sources for this piece include an article in TechPolicy.