There has been fair amount of discussion in the US recently on the topic of encryption. This has of course stemmed from a debate which ignited following Apple’s refusal to assist in unlocking a smartphone. Since then, some US politicians have looked to establish a legal framework, where if used, would require companies to be able to access devices and/or services as and when needed. This now seems to be a conversation and debate which is also taking place within Europe.
According to a recent report out of Reuters, Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister, is planning to engage in talks with other European representatives (namely from Germany) with a view to obtaining a global approach to encryption. More specifically, messaging apps and services which make use of encryption. According to reported comments made by Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister will be meeting with Germany’s Thomas de Maiziere on August 23 and one of the discussions the two will embark on is how to formulate and put into action a plan to combat the use and rise of encrypted messaging services. While much of the debate among consumers on this topic revolves around the 'rights of privacy', it does seem as though fighting terrorism is the main objective being put forward for these talks. With Cazeneuve further explaining this point by stating “many messages relating to the execution of terror attacks are sent using encryption; it is a central issue in the fight against terrorism”.
Of course, that does not mean that an approach against criminal activities will not have an automatic knock-on effect for the general consumer. Although, neither the reports nor the comments made do go into any detail on defining how an approach will be implemented, which services will be subject to any regulations, and how far-reaching any regulations would be. At the moment this is just the very earliest stages of discussion on the topic and only between two European officials. Which does mean that it is still some way from being adopted, let alone on a Europe-wide or even, global scale. However, this along with the ongoing talks in the US does highlight that the topic of smartphone encryption, beit at the app or system-level is growing and is becoming a worldwide cause for concern among lawmakers.