European police call to stop encryption on social media

Europe’s Police Chiefs and Europol issued a joint declaration urging politicians and industry leaders “to take urgent action to ensure public safety across social media platforms” as the adoption of end-to-end encryption allows offenders to hide.

Police in Europe want to maintain ‘lawful access’ to data of suspected criminals when investigating crimes “on the basis of a lawful authority with strong safeguards and oversights.”

“If police lose the ability to collect evidence, our society will not be able to protect people from becoming victims of crime,” Catherine De Bolle, Europol’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “Our homes are becoming more dangerous than our streets as crime is moving online. To keep our society and people safe, we need this digital environment to be secured.”

Police chiefs also warn that technology companies that deploy encryption will lose the ability to proactively identify illegal and harmful activity on their platforms.

“This is especially true in regards to detecting users who have a sexual interest in children, exchange images of abuse, and seek to commit contact sexual offenses. The companies currently have the ability to alert the proper authorities – with the result that many thousands of children have been safeguarded, and perpetrators arrested and brought to justice,” the document reads.

Those two capabilities combined help save many lives and protect the vulnerable from terrorism, child sexual abuse, human trafficking, drug smuggling, murder, economic crime, and other heinous crimes, police argue.

The authorities became concerned about the eroding capability to fight crime after Meta, one of the largest social networking companies, began enabling end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default for all Messenger users.

“This means that nobody during this delivery, including Meta, can see or listen to what’s sent or said,” Meta explains the feature.

“We are, therefore, deeply concerned that end-to-end encryption is being rolled out in a way that will undermine both of these capabilities. Companies will not be able to respond effectively to a lawful authority. Nor will they be able to identify or report illegal activity on their platforms. As a result, we will simply not be able to keep the public safe,” Police Chiefs said.

Heads of authorities believe there should not be a binary choice between privacy and public safety.

“Absolutism on either side is not helpful. Our view is that technical solutions do exist; they simply require flexibility from industry as well as from governments,” the document reads. “We call on our democratic governments to put in place frameworks that give us the information we need to keep our public safe.”

European Chiefs of Police agreed on the joint declaration on April 18 while taking part in an informal meeting in London hosted by the National Crime Agency.

The debate around encryption online is not new and often controversial. Last year, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said Meta’s default end-to-end encryption feature for Messenger will make it harder to keep children safe and hinder investigations into child predators. However, others believe that eroding privacy online may hinder security and not improve it.

More from Cybernews:

Apple may bring back removable batteries for its devices

Wave of ransomware on the cheap: junk guns still okay for small targets

Multi-year Volkswagen breach points to Chinese hackers

Apple is reportedly canceling the production of its FineWoven iPhone case

AI Salvador Dali awaits your call

Subscribe to our newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are markedmarked