On Monday, local time, the U.S. Department of Justice signed a new international statement,media reported. In the statement, the agency warned of the dangers behind encryption and called for industry-wide action to allow law enforcement agencies to access encrypted data after obtaining a search warrant. Officials representing the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and Japan also joined the United States.
The statement first acknowledged the value of encryption in protecting freedom of expression around the world, citing a 2017 report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. But the statement quickly turned to the apparent problems posed by the technology — “However, the implementation of encryption poses a major challenge to public safety.” We urge the industry to address our serious concern that encryption is applied in a way that completely excludes any legitimate access to content. “
In fact, this is not the first time the Justice Department has raised anti-encryption issues. In 2018, five of the seven participating countries expressed similar concerns in a public memo to technology companies, though the memorandum has since made little progress on the issue. Every time a technology company confronts such a problem, it insists that any backdoon built for law enforcement will inevitably be targeted by criminals and ultimately reduce user security.
Importantly, the seven countries will not only seek access to encrypted data in transmission, but also locally stored data such as mobile phone content. This local encryption was at the heart of the 2016 San Bernardino encryption war. At the time, the FBI took Apple to court in an attempt to obtain content stored on the phone in connection with the shooting.
“While this statement focuses on the challenges posed by end-to-end encryption, this commitment applies to all available encryption services, including device encryption, custom encryption applications, and encryption across integrated platforms,” the document continues. “