EU to support police in accessing encrypted data

On 18 October, the European Commission announced an initiative designed to limit the negative impact of encryption in criminal investigations. The proposed law enforcement support measures involve both legislative changes and a boost of technical/decryption capabilities.

The legal measures concern the facilitation of cross-border access to electronic evidence, supported by funding for training on cross-border cooperation, development of an electronic platform to exchange information within the EU and standardisation of judicial cooperation forms. The individual countries' police should establish a network of mutually cooperating expertise points contributing to the creation of a shared pool of techniques and tools to help acquire encrypted information. In establishing these networks, measures that could disable or weaken encryption (for example by using backdoors) will not be considered. The Commission strives to strengthen the capabilities of law enforcing forces without compromising the security of products and services and endangering their users. The effectivity of the implemented measures and the attitude of some member states remains to be seen, as the countries promoting access to encrypted communication services such as WhatsApp and Telegram will likely not be satisfied with this EU-level approach. Software companies' representatives are highlighting the key role of strong encryption in a number of common processes such as online banking services and have also voiced concerns about the vaguely defined tools and techniques the initiative will create and use.

 

About author: Roman Šulc

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