The recent Five Eyes ministerial meeting in late August has seen the governments of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada submit a number proposals including a mandatory backdoor on encrypted messaging.
The new proposals put forth during the meeting of the Five Eyes – an umbrella agreement that enables free sharing of information and intelligence information between the five nations for national security – have called for a strong focus on enhancing online security including the use of backdoors.
“The Governments of the Five Eyes encourage information and communications technology service providers to voluntarily establish lawful access solutions to their products and services that they create or operate in our countries”, an excerpt from the proposal on encryption states.
“Should governments continue to encounter impediments to lawful access to information necessary to aid the protection of the citizens of our countries, we may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.”
The proposal raises a number of complications, not the least of which could expose users to cyberattacks. In Australia, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the government’s intention to foster new legislation that could “oblige” technology firms to help decrypt encrypted private communications due to national security.
In other words, the law would force tech giants like Facebook, Apple and Google to offer some cooperation in accessing devices and/or messages on encrypted communication platforms.
Furthermore, any development or implementation of backdoors by technology giants fundamentally undermine the principle of encryption as it violates users’ privacy and exposes them to cyberattacks.
In the UK, a new Investigatory Powers Bill, described by the Guardian as a ‘mass digital surveillance regime’, was ruled unlawful by EU law due to their lack of safeguard earlier this year. Still, it then comes as little surprise that the countries looking to legislate backdoors are also seeking to unify these common policies between themselves.
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