Privacy has always been a headache not only for Internet users, but for the mobile device manufacturers and web servers. The recent attack in the Brussels has ignited the debate on the encrypted data again and European Union are trying to get more involved with the digital life of the people and accessing their digital privacy. It has been declared by the FBI in the United States that Apple help “unlock” an iPhone is used by a mass killer in California. So now it’s high time to impugn over digital lives privacy.
The mass kill in California, Paris Attack in November 2015 and the recent one on the Brussels gives the indications to have a debate on privacy. So as a result, governments across the European Union are pushing the limits to have more access to people’s digital activities. They are about to pass a proposal about making tough rules and empowering the intelligence services in order to get obvious access to personal data and information. All the recent accidents have pitted the fear about the probability of further attacks for all over the world.
The battle against such accidents is going through a weak phase because of the concerns raised from Apple and other European technology giants like Google and Facebook because they are making encryption technologies weak and may create so-called back doors to people’s digital information. And these so-called open doors might be misused by law enforcement officials, or intelligence agencies of unfriendly countries or agencies to make any sort of unethical attempt. So there is a need to maintain the balance between national security and privacy, and this reason has pushed many Europeans to do favor enhanced powers for law enforcement over privacy.
Every European country is not on the same side of the subject, some of them are on the opposite sides of the debate. For instance, Germany and the Netherlands are not ready to accept the encryption laws considered by Britain and France. They justify their opinion by saying that such measures should not debilitate the region’s tight data protection policies that put privacy on par with other rights like freedom of expression. Whereas its supportive nations say that fundamental rights are at priority, but there may be exceptions in case of national security reasons and emergencies.
So to tackle the issue, a few of European governments are trying to adopt a more analytical and programmatic approach which includes a series of new proposals across Europe that may give renewed powers to national intelligence agencies to compel Apple, Google and Facebook to share encrypted information. The British government is about to complete legislation which may compel the tech companies to bypass encryption protections in the name of the security of the country. Opponents call this law a “snooper’s charter” that may force companies to aid the country’s law enforcement organizations and agencies by hacking people’s digital devices like tablet, smartphones, computers, iPhones, etc.
The French government has debated proposals to make amendments to the French law and update anti-terrorism laws and planning to deploy them. If any tech company doesn’t follow the rules and refuse to provide encrypted information to the country’s investigators, may have to pay fine around $390,000 and the tech executives of the same company may get prison sentences of up to five years. Apple has challenged this attempt of the Europe and its fight with the FBI has focused a spotlight on how they try to keep users’ messages and other data secure and how they have made it tougher for European intelligence agencies to obtain any such information.
Government authorities have said that they are able to recover a cellphone, but they don’t have any way of accessing its data. So to find out a passable solution Apple’s chief executive has met with a string of European politicians in recent months to lobby for robust encryption technology. Apple is trying to be cooperative so it has provided some unencrypted information, including GPS coordinates, and so-called metadata on people’s phone calls, as part of terrorism investigations in Europe. Somewhere European governments are also skeptical about such efforts which may weak companies’ encryption technology in the name of national security.
As a result, Germany has balked at the proposals Britain and France are trying to impose considering even though it already has some of the world’s toughest privacy rules. The Dutch government published an open letter this year against back doors in encryption services offered by the likes of Apple because they find it risky. The Dutch government has said that it’ll make even encrypted files more vulnerable to criminals, terrorists and foreign intelligence services.” So as a result of pressure, the attention of the industry watchers is being focused on Britain.
Under the proposals, Investigatory Powers Bill is making it mandatory rules for Internet and telecommunications companies to keep the records of websites accessed by people in Britain over the entire one year. And also it’ll provide all legal mandates for the mass collection of large quantities of data to the country’s intelligence agencies, while letting them get the control and complete access of individual devices under certain situations. The home secretary of Britain said to the lawmakers that such powers are required to protect the country’s security. She stated that this legislation will provide sufficient transparency and oversight about how British spies conduct their activities to calm people’s privacy concerns.
But it increases the problems for Apple and other Silicon Valley companies because this proposal will give new powers to the British government and they can demand from the companies to remove encryption protections where “reasonably practicable” to get access to digital communications and hack the device and network. But the British government is trying to clarify that such rules will not debilitate companies’ services as they may not apply to end-to-end encryption, technology used by the likes of Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime services, and also by Facebook’s WhatsApp Internet Messenger.
Many of the U.S. tech giants, like Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo, have made complaints against the proposal made by the British government. They explained that these proposals may compel them to create backdoor access for the country’s spies. It may be good from a biased point of view, but how can you expect that “A key left under the doormat will be there for the good guys,” “The bad guys would find it, too.” They put their valid point of views and said that such concerns will be compounded if other national governments (including Europe or farther afield) follow Britain’s lead by passing similar legislation.