India joins global call on tech companies to allow encryption backdoors for law enforcement


India, along with six other countries, has released an international statement calling on technology companies to provide backdoor encryption access to law enforcement agencies under certain circumstances.

India, along with Japan joined members of the intelligence sharing alliance Five Eyes, comprising the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to detail their stance on encryption and public safety in a statement released over the weekend.

The seven signatories in their statement, began by highlighting the importance of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in protection privacy and safety of an individual, citing a report by UN Human Rights Council.

“Encryption is an existential anchor of trust in the digital world and we do not support counterproductive and dangerous approaches that would materially weaken or limit security systems,” the statement read.

However, the statement then pivots to the “challenges” posed by E2EE in maintaining public safety.

“Particular implementations of encryption technology, however, pose significant challenges to public safety, including to highly vulnerable members of our societies like sexually exploited children,” the countries said.

Consensus on action

“There is increasing consensus across governments and international institutions that action must be taken: while encryption is vital and privacy and cyber security must be protected, that should not come at the expense of wholly precluding law enforcement, and the tech industry itself, from being able to act against the most serious illegal content and activity online,” the statement concluded.

The countries have proposed working with tech companies on “technically feasible solutions” to address the concerns raised in terms of encryption precluding law enforcement.

These include embedding the “safety of the public in system designs thereby enabling companies to act against illegal content and activity effectively with no reduction to safety, and facilitating the investigation and prosecution of offences and safeguarding the vulnerable.”

The countries further suggest tech companies to enable “necessary and proportionate” access to encrypted content for law enforcement agencies when “an authorisation is lawfully issued.”

They further urged the companies to “engage in consultation with governments and other stakeholders to facilitate legal access in a way that is substantive and genuinely influences design decisions.”

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