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Governments all around the world hate encryption. Unless they are being incredibly cunning by pretending they can’t break strong encryption when they can, this seems to be because crypto really does keep messages and data safe from prying governmental eyes. Banning strong encryption is clearly a non-starter – even the most clueless politician knows by now that e-commerce would collapse without it. As a result, the favorite approach has been the backdoor – that magical weakness that somehow is only available to those operating lawfully, and not criminals or hostile governments. That’s despite the fact that every top security expert has explained that it is simply not possible to add backdoors to encryption while retaining the protection it is meant to offer.
It finally seems that the message is getting through – in the European Union, at least. Announcing a range of new measures to boost security in the EU, the Commissioner responsible for this area, Julian King, is reported by Politico.eu as saying:
“We are not in favor of so-called backdoors – that is, systemic vulnerabilities … What we’re trying to do today is move beyond the sometimes sterile debate of backdoors [versus] no backdoors”
That’s confirmed by a comment in the latest EU report on “building an effective and genuine Security Union”, where we read: “the Commission is proposing a range of measures to support Member State authorities, without prohibiting, limiting or weakening encryption.” Instead, King said that the European Commission would be offering EU law enforcement and judicial authorities “a set of techniques, technical support and financial support” to help them obtain information from encrypted sources. A fact sheet provides a few more details. The