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Tuesday, 12 January 2016 14:29

EFA gets behind global call for strong encryption Featured

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EFA gets behind global call for strong encryption Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

Non-profit, digital freedom and rights group, Electronic Frontiers Australia, has joined experts and organisations in more than 35 countries in asking world leaders to support strong encryption and to reject any law, policy, or mandate that would undermine digital security.

EFA Executive Officer Jon Lawrence said today that calls to undermine encryption in the name of ‘national security’ are “fundamentally misguided and dangerous”.

According to Lawrence, encryption is a “necessary and critical tool enabling individual privacy, a free media, online commerce and the operations of organisations of all types, including of course government agencies”.

“Undermining encryption therefore represents a serious threat to national security in its own right, as well as threatening basic human rights and the enormous economic and social benefits that the digital revolution has brought for people across the globe.”

EFA has made its call in an open letter hosted at SecureTheInternet.org. Other Australian organisations supporting the letter are the Australian Privacy Foundation, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, BluePrint for Free Speech and FutureWise.

In countries including France, India, the UK, China and the US, governments are considering legislation and other proposals that would undermine strong encryption.

However, safety and privacy depend on secure communications tools and technologies, and the letter represents the collective voice of technologists and organisations that rely on encryption.

“The internet belongs to the world’s people, not its governments. We refuse to let this precious resource become nationalised and broken by any nation. This letter seeks to unify the voices of global internet users by demanding the protection of tools necessary to the expression of our human rights,” said Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access Now.

The letter allows organisations and individuals to declare their support for strong encryption. The letter will be delivered to world leaders who, according to press reports, are considering legislation and other steps that would undermine encryption.

“Encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age,” said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion & Expression.

Several countries are considering proposals that would require companies to provide exceptional access to encrypted materials. This would create a “backdoor” to allow access to any encrypted file including personal conversations, medical and banking records.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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