Security & Fraud

Interpol Rethinks Position On Encryption

Interpol Postpones Statement Against Encryption

Outcry from the technology sector and civil liberties advocates has caused the global police organization Interpol to hold off on publicly criticizing the spread of encryption, unnamed sources told Reuters.

The publication reported on Wednesday (Nov. 27) that two unnamed sources revealed Interpol had planned to release a statement to the world’s technology sector, requesting that companies allow governments to “obtain access to data in a readable and useable format.” Reuters had first reported on Interpol’s plans earlier this month.

Interpol’s group on crimes against children explored such an initiative at its conference earlier this month, with a resolution proposed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. A draft of the statement seen by Reuters reflected Interpol’s plans to ask technology companies to limit the use of end-to-end encryption, noting that the data privacy tool prevents governments from being able to more easily detect sex crimes against children.

Reports said the statement echoed those of government officials around the globe, including enforcement officials in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Criticism of encryption reached new heights earlier this year after Facebook announced plans for full encryption of chats within its Messenger service. In November, the company said it would enhance encryption capabilities within Messenger despite lawmaker and regulator requests. At the time, the company’s Director for Messaging Privacy Jay Sullivan said it would also be changing how Facebook manages collected data in hopes that users would adopt the encryption option to help guide the development of data safety measures.

In response to previous Reuters reports about Interpol’s plans to criticize the use of encryption, technology conglomerates, including Facebook, warned that encryption can also be a strong deterrent against criminal activity.

Interpol did not response to Reuter’s requests for comment, with its press office noting that the organization had not planned to issue any statement.

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