Interpol: Strong encryption helps online predators. Build backdoors

Multinational cop agency reportedly set to issue statement

Multinational police agency Interpol is due to say that tech companies deploying strong encryption helps paedophiles – unless they build backdoors for police workers.

Three people "briefed on the matter" told financial newswire Reuters yesterday that the agency would be issuing a statement this week condemning the use of strong encryption because it helps child predators.

The newswire reported that "an Interpol official said a version of [a] resolution introduced by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation would be released without a formal vote by representatives of the roughly 60 countries in attendance" at an Interpol summit held last week.

"Service providers, application developers and device manufacturers are developing and deploying products and services with encryption which effectively conceals sexual exploitation of children occurring on their platforms," a draft of the resolution seen by Reuters said.

It continued: "Tech companies should include mechanisms in the design of their encrypted products and services whereby governments, acting with appropriate legal authority, can obtain access to data in a readable and useable format."

While the statement may well read like the rantings of a demented senior citizen in some long-forgotten care home, it builds on similar statements from Western governments, police and spy agencies, as well as new international treaties. So-called "think of the children" rhetoric is a tried and trusted strategy for police workers who are determined to get their way with politicians.

Interpol ignored questions from Reuters, while the US FBI also reportedly shrugged off inquiries.

The agency has yet to issue the communique in question, though it is expected to be welcomed by Western governments increasingly fed up that their internal security agencies are unable to exercise China-style social control and surveillance over their populations.

Interpol counts every country in the world as a member except for North Korea, ironically given that rogue state's general disregard for the rule of law online. While the agency is occasionally criticised by Western charities for allowing rogue states and dictatorships to abuse its processes, in general it is Western governments and their state agencies which are now using Interpol's name to dilute vital encryption safeguards in the name of police convenience. ®

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