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.”
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.