The US Department of Justice issued an international statement claiming that end-to-end encryption “poses serious concerns for public safety”, including for children who are sexually exploited.
In a statement from the Ministry of Justice on 11 October, the agency called on technology companies to work with the authorities to find a strong encryption solution with tools to investigate illegal activity and content. The administration said end-to-end encryption, which prevents law enforcement from accessing certain content, poses “serious risks to public safety.”
The declaration was signed by the Home Office, the UK Home Office, the Home Office of Australia, India and Japan, the New Zealand MP and the Canadian Minister of Public Security and Emergency Planning.
Specifically, the Department of Justice said that such encryption – where only senders and recipients can access the data transmitted – undermines law enforcement from “investigating serious crimes” and “protecting national security.” In addition, the management said that the technology company’s ability to detect and respond to sexual exploitation of children, abuse, violent crime and terrorist propaganda can be compromised.
Referring to a 2019 report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the government body indirectly indicated the need to implement end-to-end encryption with a child protection solution, or that it would undermine the existing reporting system for such exploitation. . …
“In 2018, Facebook Messenger produced nearly 12 million of the 18.4 million global CSAM reports [material on child sexual abuse for NCMEC],” the Justice Department said in a statement citing a 2019 WePROTECT Global Alliance statement. the reports risk disappearing if end-to-end encryption is implemented by default, as the current tools used to detect CSAM do not work in end-to-end encrypted environments. ”
Elected officials in the United States have already taken steps to seek legislative solutions to investigate the illegal acts indicated by the Department of Justice.
In June, three Republican senators introduced a bill to ban end-to-end encryption for technology companies and asked device manufacturers and service providers to help police by providing access to encrypted data. The bill, called the law on legal access to encrypted data, is currently being considered by the Justice Committee. There is also EARN IT, a bill that requires digital messages to first go through a government-approved scanning program to track harmful criminal activity.
Supporters of both projects claim that their goal is to protect children from sexual abuse. However, many privacy advocates have strongly criticized the sponsors of the bills for what they see as a breach of authority against personal liberties.
While the statement refers to end-to-end encryption, the Justice Department said it will expand its efforts to include “device encryption, customizable encrypted apps and cross-platform encryption.” The government agency said it would put “respect for privacy” at the forefront of any legal framework.
The Justice Department said: “We dispute the claim that public security cannot be protected without compromising privacy or cyber security.”