End-to-end encryption is a security tool used by many applications, including the Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Signal, to further ensure the privacy of users. Messages sent using this tool are encrypted before leaving the sender's phone or computer, with a key unique to the devices at both ends of an exchange.
Even if they are monitored during transmission by one hacker or by a government agency, the messages can not be read by third parties, as the only ones Appliances that can decode them are those that belong to the sender and the intended recipient. However, the EU seems to be moving now against end-to-end encryption data, following a series of terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, Vienna and Nice.
Home Affairs ministers from EU member states earlier this month called on heads of state to address the issue of data encryption so that digital data can be collected and used legally by the competent authorities.
This move comes after the leak of many EU documents. One of those originally posted by Political, concerned measures against end-to-end encryption as a way to combat child abuse, suggesting that "the fight against this type of illegal content was the least controversial". The privacy end-to-end encryption poses a problem for government agencies trying to monitor criminal activity and communications.
EU representative stated in CNBC that EU regulators they have long sought a balance between the privacy of individuals and the ability of the police to do their job. In addition, Member States have, in many cases, sought solutions that allow law enforcement and other competent authorities to obtain legal access in digital evidence, without prohibiting or weakening encryption.
As set out in the Union's July Security Strategy, the bloc advocates an approach that maintains the effectiveness of encryption in protecting the privacy and security of communications, while providing an effective response to serious crimes and terrorist incidents.
The EU coordinator for counter-terrorism, Gilles de Kerchove, sought to do so by avoiding a "back-door" approach in favor of what he sees as a "front-door" counterpart, in which a third party cooperates, instead of without, with the consent of the of the encryption provider.
Ray Walsh, a digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy, said such an approach was impossible, adding that it would eliminate data ownership and access control, which would inevitably lead to fundamental vulnerabilities. He also stressed that the adoption of this type of legislation would be detrimental to the general public. Walsh is skeptical that the back-door approach is ready for discussion, stressing that it poses problems for national security and data privacy, without really reducing the likelihood that criminals will find secret means of communication, either through the dark web or through other encrypted media.
"In addition, Walsh emphasized that the possibility of free and private communication is a fundamental human right in any free and open society," he said. Abolishing the ability of citizens to share information without complying with it will lead to higher levels of censorship and the inability of people to exercise freedom of expression.
In addition, Alex Clarkson, a lecturer in German, European and international studies at King's College London, noted that measures such as those being discussed are an ongoing part of the governments' agenda.