Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac
Attempts to force tech companies in the U.K. to hand over encrypted messages could be scuttled by EU proposals.
European members of parliament for the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee have tabled laws banning countries from seeking to break encrypted messages. It would also force tech companies which don’t use strong encryption for communications to do so.
The draft proposals read: “When encryption of electronic communications data is used, decryption, reverse engineering or monitoring of such communications shall be prohibited. Member states shall not impose any obligations on electronic communications service providers that would result in the weakening of the security and encryption of their networks and services.”
The potential legislation undermines U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s election pledge to leave terrorists with a “safe space” by forcing companies to break encryption.
It’s not clear how leaving the EU with Brexit would affect the laws, should they be passed — although it would likely mean Britain is no longer compelled to follow European Union legislation.
The battle over encryption
The battle over encryption versus keeping people safe by giving governments to ability to access personal messages is a hotly-contested topic.
In recent years, it has landed Apple in a battle with the FBI over whether it would agree to help hack the locked iPhone belonging to one of the shooters in a mass shooting incident in San Bernardino. Although Apple refused, the FBI was eventually able to gain access to the handset without Apple’s help. Under the proposed MEP regulations, this action would be banned in European countries.
Apple also clashed with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump over its pro-encryption stance. Trump even called for a boycott of Apple products as a result.
Where do you stand on the debate? Leave your comments below.