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European idea: only legal messages can be encrypted

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At the EU level, people are still looking for ways to soften the encryption of online communications so that they don’t expect excessive protests. This leads to some pretty bizarre ideas, as an internal discussion paper shows.

End-to-end encryption is a thorn in the side of various circles. Such powerful cryptography was once quite complicated to use and therefore was only used by a very small number of users. In the meantime, however, it has become the norm for communication – at least since WhatsApp, conversations between users have been properly encrypted without users noticing anything.

Time and time again, however, the call is strong for the state to have the ability to look into the channels of communication anyway. Once again, the fight against child sexual abuse is now being used as a pretext to research options to decisively bypass encryption at any time. The authors of the working paper have some pretty strange ideas, as a report by Der Spiegel shows.

It is not technically possible

The simplest suggestion is to oblige the operator of the platform to provide an interface through which criminal prosecutors can always have insight into communicating with a court decision. Technically, this only works if you forgo secure end-to-end encryption altogether – because this is based on the fact that only the sender and recipient can access the plain text of a message and the transmission path is complete. .

Another idea is that in principle only content that has been previously classified as legal is encrypted. Concretely, this would mean that a hash value is generated and compared to a central directory before sending an image. The objective is to prevent, for example, that child pornography content is exchanged via encrypted channels. However, this also doesn’t make sense from a technical point of view, as it would be quite enough to change just one pixel in an image just a little to get a different hash value. Therefore, an image of such a system would be totally unknown.

In addition, there are a few other suggestions, all of which boil down to either completely undermining the security of communication or creating a procedure that is extremely complex and ultimately easy to bypass. It would do next to nothing to thwart the agitation of criminals, while single users would be primarily concerned with infringing on their privacy.

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I am Robert C. James. A student of MSc in Computing (Applied) from Technological University Dublin (Dublin). I am a Computer Research Technologist, a Journalist and a Writer. I am mainly a Blogger Vlogger and a Creative Writer of all fields.

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