Five Eyes Group demands access to crime suspects data through encryption backdoors

The group threatens to take legal action

Five Eyes alliance member countries have threatened to implement legislation if technology providers do not cooperate with authorities to break end-to-end encryption in specific cases where private information about suspects is sought of criminal activity, as reported by ethical hacking experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security.

The five country association comprising the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand met on the Australian territory last week with ministers of national security, public security and immigration and general prosecutors. The joint declarations issued after the closure of the summit increased tension on a subject in which law enforcement, besides intelligence agencies and technology specialists are in dispute.

“The growing gap between law enforcement’s ability to legally access data on digital devices and their ability to acquire and use the content of such data is an international issue that requires urgent and constant attention, as well as an informed debate on the complexity of the problems and interests in dispute”, said the statement issued by Five Eyes. “If not, judicial decisions on legitimate access to this information become increasingly insignificant, threatening to undermine the justice systems established in our democratic nations”.

Ethical hacking specialists report that this multinational alliance demands that technology vendors such as Apple, Facebook and others provide “legal access solutions” to their products so they can request private information in cases where a court or independent authority has authorized such access on the basis of established legal standards.

However, as several encryption specialists have said over and over again, such solutions cannot be designed without underestimating the security of such services for hundreds of millions of users and companies that use them for legitimate purposes; it is reported that Five Eyes has even written to Christopher Wray, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the purpose of designing a legal framework under which this can be allowed, in a clear display of pressure on U.S. federal authorities.

“If governments continue to find impediments to legal access to the information needed to help protect the citizens of our countries, we can apply technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve those necessary legal access solutions”, the statement said.

According to experts in ethical hacking, a proposed alternative in Germany is to allow police agencies to hack into suspects’ devices or accounts, thus avoiding the need for technology service providers to implement backdoors in end-to-end encryption.

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