Five Eyes governments, India, and Japan make new call for encryption backdoors

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Five Eyes cyber panel at CYBERUK 19


Image: ZDNet/CBSi

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Members of the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes, along with government representatives for Japan and India, have published a statement over the weekend calling on tech companies to come up with a solution for law enforcement to access end-to-end encrypted communications.

The statement is the alliance’s latest effort to get tech companies to agree to encryption backdoors.

The Five Eyes alliance, comprised of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, have made similar calls to tech giants in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Just like before, government officials claim tech companies have put themselves in a corner by incorporating end-to-end encryption (E2EE) into their products.

If properly implemented, E2EE lets users have secure conversations — may them be chat, audio, or video — without sharing the encryption key with the tech companies.

Representatives from the seven governments argue that the way E2EE encryption is currently supported on today’s major tech platforms prohibits law enforcement from investigating crime rings, but also the tech platforms themselves from enforcing their own terms of service.

Signatories argue that “particular implementations of encryption technology” are currently posing challenges to law enforcement investigations, as the tech platforms themselves can’t access some communications and provide needed data to investigators.

This, in turn, allows a safe haven for criminal activity and puts the safety of “highly vulnerable members of our societies like sexually exploited children” in danger, officials argued.

“We call on technology companies to work with governments to take the following steps, focused on reasonable, technically feasible solutions,” the