Home Government Tech Policy EU parliament panel recommends end-to-end encryption

EU parliament panel recommends end-to-end encryption

The civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee of the European Parliament has released a draft proposal for new laws on privacy and electronic communications, recommending end-to-end encryption on all communications.

The committee has also recommended a ban on all backdoors to protect the privacy rights of EU citizens.

The recommendations come at at time when Britain, among other countries, is pushing for increased curbs on encryption in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in the UK.

The draft says, "Confidentiality of electronic communications ensures that information exchanged between parties and the external elements of such communication, including when the information has been sent, from where, to whom, is not to be revealed to anyone other than to the parties involved in a communication."

And it adds, "The protection of confidentiality of communications is also an essential condition for the respect of other related fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the protection of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of expression and information."

The regulation, if passed, will apply to "providers of electronic communications services, to providers of publicly available directories, and to software providers permitting electronic communications, including the retrieval and presentation of information on the internet.

"This regulation should also apply to natural and legal persons who use electronic communications services to send direct marketing, commercial communications or collect information related to, processed by or stored in end-users’ terminal equipment," the draft says.

It makes specific reference to the fact that backdoors should not be present in encryption software. "The providers of electronic communications services shall ensure that there is sufficient protection in place against unauthorised access or alterations to the electronic communications data, and that the confidentiality and safety of the transmission are also guaranteed by the nature of the means of transmission used or by state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption of the electronic communications data.

"Furthermore, 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."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.