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Friday, January 22, 2021

EU to Ban End-to-End Encryption after France and Austria Attacks

The European Union announced that they are planning on formally ending the use of end-to-end encryption by web platforms such as Signal and WhatsApp after the recent terror attacks in France and Austria.

The European Union announced that they are planning on formally ending the use of end-to-end encryption by web platforms such as Signal and WhatsApp after the recent terror attacks in France and Austria. 

A draft resolution memo leaked to the Austrian TV network ORF, dated 6 November was addressed to representatives from EU member states, saying that strong encryption remains a priority for lawmakers but it makes it difficult for law enforcement to conduct investigations.

The draft added that the proposal could be incorporated into further amendments that due to be presented to the EU Council on November 19 for adoption.

 “Law enforcement is increasingly dependent on access to electronic evidence to effectively fight terrorism, organized crime, child sexual abuse (particularly its online aspects), as well as a variety of cyber-enabled crimes,” stated the document.

Privacy advocates however are not welcome to the news and have been fearing the ban since it was suggested in 2017. 

“A European Union move to ban encryption from messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Signal would be a massive threat to data privacy as we know it. It is a disappointing change in approach from the EU which has previously been pro-privacy for European citizens,” said Ray Walsh, digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy.

Despite the fears raised by Walsh, the memo does not specifically propose banning or prohibiting end-to-end encryption or mentioned introducing a backdoor to encrypted apps. 

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