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MEPs Ready To Fight For End-To-End Encryption Across EU

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

A European Parliament committee has called for end-to-end encryption to be enforced on all forms of digital communication

A European Parliament committee has called for end-to-end encryption to be enforced on all forms of digital communication in the latest development in the ongoing encryption debate.

The draft legislation argues that EU citizens are entitled to privacy online and wants to protect their sensitive data from being accessed by governments and cyber criminals.

A key factor being considered is a ban on the inclusion of ‘backdoors’ into apps such as WhatApp and Telegram, something which WhatApp has denied ever having.

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 Privacy boost

A backdoor ban would ensure end-to-end encryption where neither government agencies nor the company providing the service  are able to listen in on conversations, ensuring a significant boost to consumer privacy.

“The principle of confidentiality should apply to current and future means of communication, including calls, internet access, instant messaging applications, email, internet phone calls and personal messaging provided through social media,” a draft proposal from the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs says.

Any such rule change would require approval by both the European Parliament and the European Council.

The issue gained prominence in the UK after March’s Westminster terror attack which resulted in the deaths of six people.

In the wake of the attack, home secretary Amber Rudd publicly slammed WhatsApp for its “completely unacceptable” use of encryption which made the attackers messages inaccessible to third parties.

This was followed by Prime Minister Theresa May’s calls for increased internet regulation following the attack on London Bridge and the revelation of government plans to ask Parliament for more power over technology companies.

It is an issue which is being driven by horrific acts of terrorism, but many industry experts believe that the technical implications of encryption, or a lack thereof, are yet to be understood by the UK government.

It should also be noted that steps are being taken to combat the issue. The world’s biggest tech firms have pledged to work harder to tackle terrorist propaganda online, with many using technology such as artificial intelligence to do so.

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