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Experts from all over the world respond to the British government’s anti-Encryption campaign

Weakening encryption makes private communications insecure and risks the security of those who need it most. AC-LAC, along with 57 other organizations from around the world, signed an open letter urging the British government to rethink its stance on attacking encryption.

The original version is available here 

Friday 11th February, 2022. The UK Home Office plans to force technology companies to remove the privacy and security of encrypted services such as WhatsApp and Signal as part of its Online Safety Bill. Even worse, the Home Office has launched a scaremongering campaign wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds on a London advertising agency to undermine public trust in a critical digital security tool to keep people and businesses safe online. 

Undermining encryption would make our private communications unsafe, allowing hostile strangers and governments to intercept conversations. Undermining encryption would put at risk the safety of those who need it most. Survivors of abuse or domestic violence, including children, need secure and confidential communications to speak to loved ones and access the information and support they need. As Stephen Bonner, executive director for technology and innovation at the UK Information Commissioner’s Office recently noted, end-to-end encryption “strengthens children’s online safety by not allowing criminals and abusers to send them harmful content or access their pictures or location.” 

Operation: Safe Escape and LGBT Tech —two organisations that represent and safeguard vulnerable stakeholders—stress the vital importance of encrypted communications victims of domestic abuse and for LGBTQ+ people in countries where they face harassment, victimisation and even the threat of execution. Far from making them safer, denying at-risk people a confidential lifeline puts them at greater and sometimes mortal risk.

Anti-encryption policies threaten the fundamental human right to freedom of expression. Compromising encryption would undermine investigative journalism that exposes corruption and criminality. According to the Centre for Investigative Journalism, without a secure means of communication, sources would go unprotected and whistleblowers will hesitate to come forward.

Contrary to what the Home Office claims, leading cybersecurity experts conclude that even message scanning “creates serious security and privacy risks for all society while the assistance it can provide for law enforcement is at best problematic.” Backdoors create an entry point for hostile states, criminals and terrorists to gain access to highly sensitive information. Weakening encryption negatively impacts the global Internet  and means our private messages, sensitive banking information, personal photographs and privacy would be undermined. MI6 head, Richard Moore, used his first public speech to warn of the increased data security threat from hostile countries. [7] By Mr. Moore’s analysis, the UK would be making things easier for hostile governments, in waging a war against our personal and national security. 

The UK government must reassess their decision to wage war on a technology that is essential to so many people in the UK and beyond.

Signatories:

  1. Access Now
  2. ACLAC (Latin American and Caribbean Encryption Coalition)
  3. Adam Smith Institute
  4. Africa Media and Information Technology Initiative (AfriMITI)
  5. Alec Muffett, Security Researcher
  6. Annie Machon
  7. ARTICLE19
  8. Big Brother Watch
  9. Centre for Democracy and Technology
  10. Christopher Parsons, Senior Research Associate, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Policy at the University of Toronto
  11. Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
  12. Cybersecurity Advisors Network (CyAN)
  13. Dave Carollo, Product Manager, TunnelBear LLC
  14. Derechos Digitales – Latin America
  15. Digital Rights Watch
  16. Dr. Duncan Campbell
  17. Electronic Frontier Foundation
  18. Faud Khan, CEO, TwelveDot Incorporated
  19. Fundación Karisma
  20. Global Partners Digital
  21. Glyn Moody
  22. Index on Censorship
  23. Instituto de Desarrollo Digital de América Latina y el Caribe (IDDLAC)
  24. Internet Society
  25. Internet Society Brazil Chapter
  26. Internet Society Catalonia Chapter
  27. Internet Society Germany Chapter
  28. Internet Society India Hyderabad
  29. Internet Society Portugal Chapter
  30. Internet Society Tchad Chapter
  31. Internet Society UK England Chapter
  32. Internet Freedom Foundation, India
  33. JCA-NET (Japan)
  34. Jens Finkhaeuser, Interpeer Project
  35. Prof. Dr. Kai Rannenberg, Goethe University Frankfurt, Chair of Mobile Business & Multilateral Security
  36. Kapil Goyal, Faculty Member, DAV College Amritsar
  37. Khalid Durrani, PureVPN
  38. Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Löhr, Freie Universität Berlin
  39. LGBT Technology Partnership
  40. Liberty
  41. Luke Robert Mason
  42. Mark A. Lane, Cryptologist, UNIX / Software Engineer
  43. OpenMedia
  44. Open Rights Group
  45. Open Technology Institute
  46. Peter Tatchell Foundation
  47. Privacy & Access Council of Canada
  48. Ranking Digital Rights
  49. Reporters Without Borders
  50. Riana Pfefferkorn, Research Scholar, Stanford Internet Observatory
  51. Simply Secure
  52. Sofía Celi, Latin American Cryptographers.
  53. Dr. Sven Herpig, Director for International Cybersecurity Policy, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung
  54. Tech For Good Asia
  55. The Law and Technology Research Institute of Recife (IP.rec)
  56. The Tor Project
  57. Dr. Vanessa Teague, Australian National University
  58. Yassmin Abdel-Magied
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