Can technology companies implant backdoors in their products?

Recently, the Five Eyes Security Alliance countries—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and India, issued a joint statement last week, calling on technology companies to serve the government and law enforcement agencies out of public safety considerations in their product design. A “back door” is reserved for access to encrypted content.

The statement said: “We signers support strong encryption, which plays a vital role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets, and network security. Encryption is the cornerstone of trust in the digital world. We do not support those who will A counterproductive and dangerous method that substantially weakens or restricts the safety system.”

But the statement went on to point out: “The special implementation of encryption technology poses a major challenge to public safety, including the most vulnerable members of our society, such as children who have been sexually exploited.” Then, the document cited information about online child abuse. It also claims that if law enforcement agencies can be allowed to view encrypted communications, it will enhance public safety.

The statement believes that not only the public is in danger. Technology companies themselves may not be able to “identify and respond to violations of their terms of service” or respond to “the most serious illegal content and activities on the platform, including the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, violent crimes, terrorist propaganda and attack plans.”

This is why the seven signatories of the statement “urge the industry to resolve these issues that the government is extremely worried about-encryption applications exclude any legal way to access content.” They suggest that this can be done in the following three ways:

·Incorporate public safety into the system design, so that the company can effectively deal with illegal content and activities without reducing safety, and promote the investigation and prosecution of illegal acts and protect vulnerable groups;

·Enable law enforcement agencies to access the content in a readable and usable format under the condition that the authorization is legally issued and the necessary and proportional authorization is strictly protected and supervised; and:

· Consult with the government and other stakeholders to promote judicial access in a substantive way and in a way that truly influences design decisions.

The statement concluded: “We question this view that protecting public safety will inevitably harm privacy or network security. We firmly believe that the best of three worlds is feasible, and strive to cooperate with the industry to reach a mutually agreed solution. “

The reasons for these statements by the seven countries are worthy of attention, as many of them have already enacted legislation designed to ensure that governments can access online encryption activities. For example, the Snoopy Charter in the United Kingdom, the Aid and Access Act in Australia and the Cloud Computing Act in the United States all provide legislative tools that allow the government to force access to equipment and/or content under certain circumstances.

 

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