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U.S., 4 Other Nations Call for Lawful Access to Encrypted Mobile Device Data

September 05, 2018  | 

A long-running security alliance among the governments of the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand—also known as the Five Eyes—agreed last week that “privacy is not absolute” and custom techniques should be developed to circumvent encryption.

Following officials’ annual meeting, known as the Five Country Ministerial (FCM), it was agreed there is an “increasing gap” between the ability of police to access data and the ability to “acquire and use the content of that data” in the courts. Nations complained end-to-end encryption—used in apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram—is also used by terrorists and criminals, Newsweek reports.

“The inability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to lawfully access encrypted data and communications poses challenges to law enforcement agencies' efforts to protect communities,” reads the official communiqué released August 29, following the meeting in Australia. “Therefore, we agreed to the urgent need for law enforcement to gain targeted access to data.”

A new “statement of principles on access to evidence and encryption” said technology companies should be urged to “voluntarily establish lawful access solutions to their products and services.” If that is not possible, however, intelligence agencies may take matters into their own hands.


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