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Friday, September 22, 2023

The EU to ‘spy’ on WhatsApp messages to fight terrorism, but privacy experts are ringing the alarm

The threat of Islamic terrorism might turn the West into Communist China when it comes to privacy

The Council of the European Union has prepared a proposal that obliges operators of communication applications such as WhatsApp to provide intelligence services with access to encrypted communication. The measure should help to prevent terrorist attacks such as the ones in Vienna and France. The United States and Great Britain plan similar steps, according to Czech news portal Idnes.cz. 

WhatsApp, Signal, and other mobile communication applications use the so-called end-to-end-E2E technique to ensure user privacy. That way, a message sent from a single device can be only decrypted using the platform-specific encryption key by the end-user receiving the message.

According to the Austrian radio station FM4, the Council of the European Union has prepared a proposal according to which operators of mobile communication platforms should create additional master keys that would allow European intelligence services to break encrypted communication in justified cases. The information is based on a leaked internal document sent by Germany, which currently holds the helm of the EU presidency, to delegations to Council member states.

Competent authorities must have access to data “in full respect of fundamental rights and the data protection regime” and in “maintaining cybersecurity”, according to the Associated Press in a document that is also available. “Technical solutions for gaining access to encrypted data must comply with the principles of legality, transparency, necessity, and proportionality”.



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