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European Commission does not support backdoors to encrypted communications

European Union, European Commission, EU

The European Commission believes that backdoors should not be introduced to encrypted communications and that encryption software should not be weakened. The Commission clarified this in an emailed response to MediaNama's queries about its stance on developing backdoors to end-to-end encrypted platforms. Last week, it was reported that the European Union is deliberating on how to give law enforcement agencies access to end-to-end encrypted communications. The Commission's previous response had suggested that as long as a law exists, backdoors may be on the table. The latest response clarifies the Commission's anti-backdoor position. The Commission has been discussing the role of encryption in criminal investigations since December 2016. The Commission, which is the executive branch of the European Union, supports Europol (the EU law enforcement agency) and ENISA’s (the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity that contributes to the EU cyber policy) statement from 2016 that said that backdoors allow more opportunities for abuse, the spokesperson told us. As per the statement, backdoors are worse for society at large as they “weaken protection against criminals as well”. Once these encrypted communication channels are weakened, criminals can easily circumvent them and develop or buy their own solutions without backdoors or key escrow, the statement had said. The Europol-ENISA statement stressed on the importance of proportionality. It said, while “intercepting encrypted communication or breaking into a digital service might be considered a proportional response with respect to an individual suspect”, breaking the cryptographic mechanism itself may cause collateral damage. The confidential Commission note that…

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