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European chiefs of police joining forces against encryption

Secure online communication is essential for individuals and companies but the encryption to secure that is controversial. European police chiefs and Europol are now joining forces against the encryption urging industry and governments to stop end-to-end encryption of messages. With such encryption, “we will simply not be able to keep the public safe”, they say in a statement.

Law enforcement and government entities have been vocal critics of encryption. In order to protect the public from criminals and terrorists, they need access to all electronic communications and digital data, they argue. 

Encryption is used to protect data from being stolen, changed or compromised and works by scrambling data into a secret code that can only be unlocked with a unique digital key.

Our societies have not previously tolerated spaces that are beyond the reach of law enforcement, where criminals can communicate safely and child abuse can flourish. They should not now. We cannot let ourselves be blinded to crime. We know from the protections afforded by the darkweb how rapidly and extensively criminals exploit such anonymity” ,the Europol statement says.

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The joint declaration was agreed on at an informal meeting of European chiefs of police in London hosted by the National Crime Agency. Police C=chiefs of all EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries were invited, alongside Europol’s Executive Director. 

“Technical solutions do exist; they simply require flexibility from industry as well as from governments. We recognise that the solutions will be different for each capability, and also differ between platforms.” 

“We therefore call on the technology industry to build in security by design, to ensure they maintain the ability to both identify and report harmful and illegal activities, such as child sexual exploitation, and to lawfully and exceptionally act on a lawful authority.”

“We call on our democratic governments to put in place frameworks that give us the information we need to keep our publics safe”, the joint declaration says. 

“Trends in crime are deeply concerning and show how offenders increasingly use technology to find and exploit victims and to communicate with each other within and across international boundaries. It must be our shared objective to ensure that those who seek to abuse these platforms are identified and caught, and that the platforms become more safe, not less.”

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