Oct 3, 2019

U.S., U.K. and Australia to ask Facebook to halt encryption tech

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and officials from the U.K. and Australia (three of the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance) plan to send a letter to Facebook requesting the company halt implementation of end-to-end encryption tech into its services, which would make content inaccessible to law enforcement, BuzzFeed first reported.

Why it matters: This is the latest example of the tension between the technology industry and governments when it comes to balancing digital privacy of consumers and law enforcement.

From a Facebook spokesperson:

"We believe people have the right to have a private conversation online, wherever they are in the world. As the US and UK governments acknowledge, the CLOUD Act allows for companies to provide available information when they receive valid legal requests and does not require companies to build back doors.
We respect and support the role law enforcement has in keeping people safe. Ahead of our plans to bring more security and privacy to our messaging apps, we are consulting closely with child safety experts, governments and technology companies and devoting new teams and sophisticated technology so we can use all the information available to us to help keep people safe.
End-to-end encryption already protects the messages of over a billion people every day. It is increasingly used across the communications industry and in many other important sectors of the economy. We strongly oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere."

Go deeper

U.S., allies fire up encryption fight with Facebook

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The U.S., along with the U.K. and Australia, has sent a letter to Facebook asking it to halt implementation of end-to-end encryption tech in its services, in order to keep messages accessible to law enforcement.

Why it matters: The request marks the latest twist in a long-running debate over encryption, with some arguing for government backdoors and others maintaining that there is no way to provide them without compromising security and privacy.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

DOJ's latest case against encryption: It helps child predators

The Justice Department's latest arguments against encryption, presented at a summit in Washington Friday, focus on child predators and take aim at only certain kinds of data.

Why it matters: This isn't the first salvo in the encryption debate — it wasn't even the first last week — but it does show how Attorney General William Barr plans to make the case for "back doors" in encryption, a case law enforcement agencies have tried and failed to win since the 1990s.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

The Justice Department just made the encryption debate harder to solve

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Experts fear that the Department of Justice's latest argument against warrant-proof encryption, which emphasizes protecting children and focuses on the use of encrypted messengers, may make it harder than ever to resolve the encryption debate.

The big picture: The DOJ's new plea for extraordinary access to encrypted data, put forward at a summit last week, moves the debate toward systems that are harder to secure and uses cases that are exponentially costlier to address.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019