Survey of E.U. Member Countries Indicates Strong Support for Weakening End-to-End Encryption

Lily Hay Newman, Morgan Meaker, and Matt Burgess, of Wired, acquired an official survey (PDF) of the views held by E.U. countries’ governments about end-to-end encryption:

For years, EU states have debated whether end-to-end encrypted communication platforms, such as WhatsApp and Signal, should be protected as a way for Europeans to exercise a fundamental right to privacy—or weakened to keep criminals from being able to communicate outside the reach of law enforcement. Experts who reviewed the document at WIRED’s request say it provides important insight into which EU countries plan to support a proposal that threatens to reshape encryption and the future of online privacy.

Of the 20 EU countries represented in the document leaked to WIRED, the majority said they are in favor of some form of scanning of encrypted messages, with Spain’s position emerging as the most extreme. “Ideally, in our view, it would be desirable to legislatively prevent EU-based service providers from implementing end-to-end encryption,” Spanish representatives said in the document.

Most of these governments — save for Estonia, Finland, and Germany — are in alignment with American and British authorities in their wish to weaken privacy and security.

This is the latest evidence in this shared, albeit largely independent, project. I have not gone all conspiracy theorist on you, I promise. Governments and law enforcement the world over hate end-to-end encryption and are working to undermine it, both with technical means and in the public mindset. The unique horror of CSAM is an understandable vehicle for messaging that compromising encryption is the correct position, and those who oppose these goals must have something to hide. But supporting strong privacy and security is not a radical position in an era of communications which are permanent, centralized, and outside our control.