EU and UK: Threatening encryption risks our rights and security

Authorities already have an array of security, surveillance and counter-terrorism measures at their disposal. This would be a disproportionate attack on privacy and free expression.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

QUOTE

EU: Amnesty warns EU governments not to threaten encryption

31 March 2017

–        Spokespeople available

In response to a clarification from the European Commission that it is not proposing new measures to make it easier for police to access data on internet messaging apps like WhatsApp in June but will only discuss the issues, Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s Head of Technology and Human Rights said:

“This clarification from the Commission is welcome news. While protecting the public from harm is absolutely essential, any attempt to give governments the right to have backdoor access into encrypted apps carte blanche would be a major affront to the right of privacy for the people of Europe. Authorities already have an array of security, surveillance and counter-terrorism measures at their disposal. Any move in this direction would be a disproportionate attack on privacy and free expression.

“As we share more and more information online, states must not threaten encryption. The Commission’s announcement comes in the week that the UK Home Secretary held a “summit” with tech companies about the same issue. It would be irresponsible for governments to demand that companies use less secure technology and undermine information security for everyone. Doing so is a threat to all of our rights. Journalists, activists and politicians would be particularly affected by weaker encryption.

“Banning end-to-end encryption would only hurt ordinary people whose information will be less protected. Any criminal group with a moderate degree of sophistication would still be able to use end-to-end encryption, which is widely available for free, as open-source software. You cannot uninvent end-to-end encryption.

“As the guardian of justice policy in the EU – including data protection – Commissioner Jourová must protect the rights of people in Europe.”

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Alison Abrahams in Brussels on [email protected] +32 2 548 27 73 or +32 483 680 812

Background

Amnesty International briefing: Encryption: A Matter of Human Rights

Amnesty International report: Dangerously Disproportionate: The Ever-Expanding National Security State in Europe