Encrypted messaging services – WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Viber – could be forced to avail unencrypted versions of customers’ chats if a proposed law by French and German interior ministers goes through.
Privacy is a key area in messaging apps and Internet as a whole as customers want to be secured from fraud. Most messaging platforms have adopted encryption technology, where data is scrambled to a form that only make sense on the recipient’s device. Major players like WhatsApp, iMessage, Telegram, Messenger and Viber among countless others have all embraced this policy. However, encryption has met criticism from governments and authorities who claim it aids terrorism.
France and Germany now call on the EU to compel tech corporations to limit the encryption used in their services. The two countries plan on taking a proposal to the European Commission asking the body to allow them force services like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Telegram to provide them with backdoor through encryption used to secure information.
The proposal resulted from a security meeting on fighting terrorism held by the two ministers, Bernard Cazeneuve of France and Germany’s Thomas de Maiziere, in Paris, France.
According to the governments’ representatives, the rule will help governments and authorities to monitor conversations between those alleged to be terrorists. Mr. Bernard said the governments will not spy on everyone. Only suspected wrong-doers under investigation will be monitored. However, privacy campaigners are not subscribing to that idea whatsoever. The activists say it won’t be practical to loosen security for a section of users, the so-called criminals under investigation. Furthermore, allowing the authorities to access a single message mutually excludes others from being completely private.
The advocates claim that the encryption technology is key to securing content shared via messaging platforms and the Internet at large. Messaging platforms, for instance, contain individuals’ important and intimate information including banking transactions which need to be kept out of reach of third parties.
Furthermore, terrorists could still create their own encrypted platforms and enjoy more privacy than ordinary users who have little to hide. Also, allowing a broader public to bypass encryption would allow organizations to monopolize its usage thus abusing it.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve made the actual announcement confirming the agreement with his German equivalent to pushing the European Commission to regulate encryption across the bloc. He precisely pointed on Telegram saying conversations via the service are essential for Judicial proceeding and if need be they must be identified and availed.
Mr. Cazeneuve said they will take a proposal to the Executive body, during an EU summit slated for next month, to explore the possibility of introducing a policy that will force operators to provide illegal content or decipher messages that may be required during a criminal investigation and this should apply to companies based in and outside Europe. The UK is also a big critic of US-based encrypted services while in Iran services like WhatsApp are totally banned.
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption privacy protocol was warmly welcomed by users and is one of the most loved bits of the chat client. Allowing third parties to bypass the policy would certainly comprise the privacy of over a billion people using the service currently.