Minister Grapperhaus wants consultation with critics about weakening encryption WhatsApp

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Minister Grapperhaus of Justice and Security will talk to organizations that have shown themselves to be critical about the plans to be able to tap encrypted chat apps such as WhatsApp. According to the minister, he wants to ‘prevent misunderstandings’.

According to the minister, consultations with the organizations that have expressed their concerns about the plans must take place this month. He writes this to the House of Representatives. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, security companies, Amnesty International, journalists’ organizations and the Consumers’ Association, among others, announced earlier this month that they were concerned about the plans of the cabinet and that they wanted to ‘promote the development, availability and application of all forms of encryption’. . The criticism came after reports that the Ministry of Justice and Security would be actively working to weaken the security of encrypted chat apps.

Minister Grapperhaus reports in the letter to parliament: “Part of these concerns was that there was a desire to seriously affect encryption or even make it impossible. To avoid possible misunderstandings about our research, I intend to discuss this this month. engage with representatives of the organizations that have expressed their concerns.”

Communication via encrypted chat apps is not yet visible to intelligence services. Worldwide there is increasing pressure from governments and regimes to change this. The cabinet is investigating a tapping obligation for so-called over-the-top communication services such as WhatsApp. Grapperhaus emphasizes that the resigning cabinet will not take irreversible steps in this endeavor and will look for solutions that do justice to the cabinet position of not weakening encryption.

Earlier, the minister pleaded with the EU for a back door in encrypted chat apps. It is not known exactly what the plans of the minister to enable a back door but not to weaken encryption. “The discussion about the WhatsApp backdoors now seems to be turning into a semantic discussion”, according to Ronald Prins, security expert and former member of the Assessment Committee Deployment of Powers. Prins hints at the use of a kind of token, with which the authorities can watch as an invisible third person in conversations, which then still remain encrypted. “And there are a few life-size problems: the government token must be very well preserved and may not be released on the street. Besides, how do you regulate access to that tokens?”

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