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The Council of the European Union against encryption
The Council of the European Union against encryption
Fintech

The Council of the European Union against encryption

By Marco Cavicchioli - 11 Nov 2020

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The Council of the European Union would be determined to deliver a tough attack against the use of encryption on smartphones

This is what emerges from an internal document published by Orf.at, which is the website of the Austrian state television. 

This resolution obliges operators of platforms such as WhatsApp, Signal and others to create keys for monitoring E2E encrypted chat and messages within five days. 

The explicit purpose of this resolution would be to guarantee the authorities access to data transmitted or received via messaging apps, even if they are encrypted. 

The intended use of this new functionality would be in compliance with the law, including the fundamental rights of individuals and the computer security of the devices, but it is legitimate to have doubts that they will always and only be used in this way. 

In fact, the document explicitly calls for technical solutions to obtain access to encrypted data without, however, specifying which or how to access them. 

In addition, it calls for these solutions to be developed in close collaboration with communication service providers, opening up the possibility that connectivity providers may have access to the information contained in users’ chats. 

However, it should be noted that these EU Council resolutions do not have legal force, but are intended to indicate possible new developments and to invite the European Commission to produce legislation in this regard. 

Encryption as an enemy-friend of the Council of the European Union 

What is curious, to say the least, is that the document itself begins with real praise of encryption as a tool to ensure the privacy, confidentiality and integrity of communications data of governments, critical infrastructure, civil society, citizens and industry. 

It seems almost as if the Council considers the use of cryptography useful if it is used by public institutions, like the Council itself, but dangerous if it is used by private citizens. 

The ultimate goal of this strategy would be to enable law enforcement agencies to intercept in advance messages linked in particular to the organization of terrorist attacks, but it is very difficult to imagine how abuse could actually be avoided. It is well known, for example, that telephone tapping has not always been used in an ethical way, and it is extremely unlikely that something like this will not happen for private chats or messages. 

Marco Cavicchioli
Marco Cavicchioli

Class 1975, Marco teaches web-technologies and is an online writer specializing in cryptocurrencies. He founded ilBitcoin.news, and his YouTube channel has more than 25 thousand subscribers.

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