DOJ says End to End encryption threatens public safety and the fight against child abuse, seeks backdoor access

The Department of Justice alongside the signatories in the statement states that end to end encryption threatens public safety.

By · Oct 13, 2020 . 7min read

DOJ says End to End encryption threatens public safety news

The U.S Justice Department – DOJ has released a public statement on End to End encryption, suggesting that it constitutes threat to public safety and weakens the fight against child abuse and sex trafficking.

The statement claims,

End-to-end encryption that precludes lawful access to the content of communications in any circumstances directly impacts these responsibilities, creating severe risks to public safety

To buttress their claims, the DOJ cited a 2019 Global Threat Assessment report by the NCME. In that report, the agency stated unequivocally that end to end encryption constitutes a huge threat to children online.

In 2018, Facebook Messenger was responsible for nearly 12 million of the 18.4 million worldwide reports of CSAM [child sexual abuse material to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)]

Hence, strong encryption whittles down law enforcement operational effectiveness in getting these reports.

These reports risk disappearing if end-to-end encryption is implemented by default since current tools used to detect CSAM [child sexual abuse material] do not work in end-to-end encrypted environments.”

Consequently, the DOJ alongside the signatories in the statement asks technological companies to “work with governments” to address these concerns. What are the demands of DOJ together with other countries supporting this move asking of tech companies?

  • Embed the safety guidelines of the public in system designs, thus enabling companies to act against illegal content.
  • Enable content access to law enforcement agencies in a readable and usable format with authorization.
  • Engage in consultation with governments and other stakeholders to facilitate legal access in a way that is substantive and genuinely influences design decisions

Crypto community against DOJ’s stance on End to End encryption

The signatories to this move by the DOJ include the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and Canada. Recall we had earlier reported in July of the US Senate introducing an anti-encryption data bill. The bill legislates that the law mandates technology manufacturers to provide support to law enforcement agencies to access to encrypted messages.

Even then and now, this step didn’t go down well with cryptocurrency advocates. Cryptocurrencies run on the backbone of a strong end to end encryption. Crypto enthusiasts hinge their argument that the state and its paraphernalia cannot be trusted with citizens privacy. Some asked what happens when other malicious actors get access to the messages available to the state. Also, they argue that encryption encroachment is an attack on free speech. Moreover, root access to communications automatically means there is really no end to end encryption. As cryptographers would say, “End to End encryption is Maths” and is therefore not sentimental.

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