Crypto in Europe: Battle Lines Drawn

EU Seeks Mandatory End-to-End Encrypted Communications

The European Parliament and European Commission are pushing for mandatory end-to-end encrypted communications, and banning backdoors, as part of the EU’s rebooted e-privacy regulation. But the move runs counter to anti-crypto rhetoric being spouted by government ministers in Britain and France.

The EU wants messaging systems – including apps such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram and WhatsApp – to have mandatory end-to-end encryption, and to prohibit any attempt by governments to create backdoors in such messaging systems.

Those proposals are part of a number of changes being put forward to update a 2002 EU electronic privacy directive, transforming it into a regulation that would take effect at the same time as the EU General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018.

Officials say the timing is not coincidence, and that the changes are meant to modernize EU e-privacy rights, in line with the stronger data privacy protections guaranteed by GDPR.

The e-privacy change from being a directive to a regulation – specifically, the Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications – is also significant. Directives get transposed by EU member states into national laws. But a regulation, once it takes effect, becomes immediately enforceable as law in all EU member states.

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