Economy, Sci & Tech

Five Eyes Threaten to Force Encryption Backdoors

The measure will provide security agencies with further surveillance power.The measure will provide security agencies with further surveillance power.

“Privacy is not absolute,” said Five Eyes (US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and tech companies will either have to give Five Eyes access to encrypted data, communications and devices or the five will force their way.

According to the recently issued Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption, it seems the government intelligence alliance is ready to bring the pain by pursing “technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.”

That is but one statement that came after government representatives of the five countries met in Australia at the end of August. None of the statements issued specifically mention “backdoors”; in fact, Five Eyes call encryption “vital to the digital economy, a secure cyberspace and the protection of personal, commercial and government information. The five countries have no interest or intention to weaken encryption mechanisms,” CSO Online reported.

But from there, it is the same old song and dance. Baddies—such as criminals and terrorists—use encryption and end-to-end encryption and keeping intelligence and law enforcement from accessing their encrypted data and communications makes it difficult “to protect” communities.

Giving intelligence agencies the ability to access encrypted data is for the children! Tech companies, device manufacturers and carriers have a “mutual responsibility” to “assist authorities to lawfully access data, including the content of communications.”

 ”Privacy Is Not Absolute”

“Privacy laws must prevent arbitrary or unlawful interference, but privacy is not absolute,” Five Eyes said. “The increasing gap between the ability of law enforcement to lawfully access data and their ability to acquire and use the content of that data is a pressing international concern that requires urgent, sustained attention and informed discussion on the complexity of the issues and interests at stake.”

Five Eyes was disappointed that digital industry CEOs were not interested in attending the meetings and put emphasis on “freedom of choice for lawful access solutions,” but not freedom of choice to prevent access to encrypted communications.

Each Five Eyes jurisdiction “will consider how best to implement the principles of this statement, including with the voluntary cooperation of industry partners. Any response, be it legislative or otherwise, will adhere to requirements for proper authorization and oversight, and to the traditional requirements that access to information is underpinned by warrant or other legal process.”

 Further Measures

On top of all that, Five Eyes called upon the tech industry “to meet public expectations regarding online safety” by implementing various measures which are listed below:

Developing and implementing capabilities to prevent illegal and illicit content from ever being uploaded, and to execute urgent and immediate takedown where there is a failure to prevent upload.

Deploying human and automated capabilities to seek out and remove legacy content.

Acting on previous commitments to invest in automated capabilities and techniques (including photo DNA tools) to detect, remove and prevent re-upload of illegal and illicit content, as well as content that violates a company’s terms of service.

Prioritizing protection of users by building user safety into the design of all online platforms and services including new technologies before they are deployed.

Building upon successful hash sharing efforts to further assist in proactive removal of illicit content.

Setting ambitious industry standards and increasing assistance to smaller companies in developing and deploying illicit content counter-measures.

Building and enhancing capabilities to counter foreign interference and disinformation.

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