Several European tech companies warn the European Commission in an open letter about the dangers of phasing out encryption in digital communication. Mass surveillance will not curb terrorism or child abuse, say the authors of the open letter.
European tech companies Tutanota, Boxcryptor, Cryptomator, Mailbox.org, mail.de, Mailfence, Praxonomy and Tresorit do not agree with plans by the European Commission to gain access to encrypted data on the internet. With this intervention, the Commission wants to enable authorities to detect criminal and illegal activities in a timely manner. At the end of last year, the European Commission adopted another resolution on this subject.
“Under the guise of the fight against child abuse and terrorism, the European Union wants to violate the privacy of our digital conversations,” write the authors of the letter. “In order to be able to intercept messages with illegal content, Europe wants to screen all private chat messages in the future. That would undermine our European ideals and the basic principles of democratic Europe.”
The authors behind the letter also state that the plans of the European Commission will not reduce crime. They argue that criminals will use private chat services that will still be encrypted. “It is only the majority of the population that will be affected by the proposed plans,” said the authors. They also point to the risk that messages sent in a private sphere can be readily viewed by employees of a supervisory body and can potentially be used to blackmail someone.
According to the companies, with these plans, Europe is also putting a dent in the image of its companies that, thanks to the GDPR law, and the associated obligations, occupy a unique position in the market. “If the European Union fiddles with the protection offered by end-to-end encryption, it will dent the image of countless European companies that had a unique selling point in the global context thanks to GDPR legislation.” The quality label ‘Made in Europe’ will then be less decisive for global customers looking for privacy-friendly businesses, according to the authors.