The Five Eyes, an intelligence (or surveillance, depending on your viewpoint) alliance among five countries (Australia, United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada), met this past week to discuss the future of encryption and the different options available to help thwart worldwide criminal efforts, while also maintaining the level of cybersecurity needed to keep citizens of the world safe while browsing the web.
Interestingly enough, it seems as though not every country in The Five Eyes is on the same page when it comes to encryption. For example, New Zealand Attorney-General, Christopher Finlayson, didn’t even mention encryption when speaking about the meeting in a recent press release. On the same note, the United Kingdom also made no mention of encryption following the get-together. US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, disclosed that encryption was part of the discussion, but said it was more so focused on ‘preventing radicalization’.
Australian Attorney General, George Brandis, is insisting that the overall objective is to collaborate with the private sector and establish voluntary assistance to help law enforcement tackle illegal online activity. Despite these apparent good intentions, the global privacy community is standing up for unbreakable end-to-encryption. Access Now is leading a charge of 83 organizations fighting for human rights and complete Internet privacy, which includes demanding encryption is “respected.”
As pointed out recently by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a combined effort to weaken secure products is a threat to global security, and leaves users vulnerable to cyber-attacks and government surveillance, something the United Kingdom has historically not seemed to mind, especially with the passing of the Investigatory Powers Act.
Regardless of the intentions of the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance, global discussions about increasing government surveillance are dangerous and should be treated with extreme caution. We stand with our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and have signed their letter to emphasize the importance of strong encryption. At Golden Frog we’ve always stood for strong, unbreakable encryption as a right.