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We Must Weaken Encryption, Say Five Eyes Ministers

Senior ministers from the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States have announced their support of weakening encryption, essentially asking tech companies to install backdoors in encrypted communications.

The news comes following a two-day security summit in London, where home affairs, interior security and immigration ministers of the ‘Five Eyes’ countries discussed current and emerging threats which could undermine national and global security.

As detailed in the an official UK government release, “During a roundtable with tech firms, ministers stressed that law enforcement agencies’ efforts to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes would be hampered if the industry carries out plans to implement end-to-end encryption, without the necessary safeguards.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The Five Eyes are united that tech firms should not develop their systems and services, including end-to-end encryption, in ways that empower criminals or put vulnerable people at risk.

“We heard today about the devastating and lifelong impact of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and agreed firm commitments to collaborate to get ahead of the threat.

“As Governments, protecting our citizens is our top priority, which is why through the unique and binding partnership of Five Eyes we will tackle these emerging threats together.”

Also speaking at the conclusion of the two-day conference was United States Attorney General William P. Barr. Barr said that encryption presents a unique challenge and the Five Eyes partnership has a duty to protect public safety, including those related to the internet.

“We must ensure that we do not stand by as advances in technology create spaces where criminal activity of the most heinous kind can go undetected and unpunished.”

However, Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, said that calls to weaken encryption, or to place backdoors in, are periodically made by ill-informed politicians.

“No matter how hotly this is debated, it can't change the maths behind encryption, which will either work or not. Weakening encryption will do more harm than good, as it will leave all communication vulnerable and allow bad actors to compromise legitimate traffic,” he argued.

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