Leading technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, IBM and Intel have called for politicians around the world to protect encryption standards.
The consortium of 56 technology companies, under the banner of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), spoke out against any plans to make it possible to access end-to-end encryption.
“We deeply appreciate law enforcement’s and the national security community’s work to protect us, but weakening encryption or creating backdoors to encrypted devices and data for use by the good guys would actually create vulnerabilities to be exploited by the bad guys,” wrote Dean Garfield, president of the ITI.
“[This] would almost certainly cause serious physical and financial harm across our society and our economy. Weakening security with the aim of advancing security simply does not make sense,” he concluded.
In the wake of the terrorists by Islamic State in Paris, where more than 120 people died, politicians around the world have made calls for back doors to be introduced to encryption standards, so that messages can be intercepted.
It has been reported the terrorists used SMS messages, which are not protected by the encryption type.
And Garfield pointed out that it isn’t just messaging services that use encryption to protect data. Banks and financial transactions both use encryption to be able to protect money and the services they provide.
It has been argued that giving one person a backdoor would make it technically possible for anyone to use the same key, fundamentally breaking encryption.
The debate around encryption also comes in the context of the UK government’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill), which aims to increase the powers available to intelligence agencies to track and monitor suspects.
Included in the bill is a stipulation that companies can access the communications of their customers when they have been requested by a warrant from officials. At present Apple uses end-to-end encryption to protect messages sent using its services and isn’t able to access the content of the messages, even if it is asked.
“Apple has no way to decrypt iMessage and FaceTime data when it’s in transit between devices,” the company explained on its website. “So unlike other companies’ messaging services, Apple doesn’t scan your communications, and we wouldn’t be able to comply with a wiretap order even if we wanted to.”
It’s likely that the company’s inclusion in the ITI letter will indicate opposition to removing end-to-end encryption if the IP Bill is passed into law next year.
by MATT BURGESS