EU commission on access to online services

Access to encrypted data has been an issue for quite some time now. The European Commission said in a statement, that they want to propose new measures for the police to access data on internet messaging apps in June this year.

New rules for access to online services

EU Justice Minister Vera Jourova said on Tuesday that she will announce “three or four options” including binding legislation and voluntary agreements with companies to allow law enforcement authorities to demand information from internet messaging apps “with a swift, reliable response”, Euractiv reports. Due to the fact that it can take years until EU laws are passed, the non-legislative measures will be provisional-  “to have a quick solution”.

“At the moment, prosecutors, judges, also police and law enforcement authorities, are dependent on whether or not providers will voluntarily provide the access and the evidence. This is not the way we can facilitate and ensure the security of Europeans, being dependent on some voluntary action,”

Jourová said.

EU interior ministers call for more rules

So, where does this development come from? Why is the EU commission suddenly so ‘fast” in proposing new rules in this issue?
One of the reasons is probably the terrorist attack in London last week. Since the British media reported that the attacker has been – allegedly – using a messaging app, not only UK Home Secretay Amber Rudd demanded that the police has to have more rights when it comes to encrypted messaging. Rudd did not name specific companies, but on Sunday she called for police and intelligence services to be given access to WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging services, The Guardian reports.

More access rights = limited privacy rights?

However, not everyone agrees with the new demand for more access rights of the police. Jan Philipp Albrecht, vice-chair of the European parliament’s civil liberties and justice committee, is criticizing Rudd’s demand as limiting privacy rights of individuals.

“What you cannot do is have no limit and say everyone needs to be under surveillance or under the possibility to decrypt everything,”

he said.

Last summer, the European Commission published a draft law on data privacy that aims to ensure instant message and internet-voice-call services face similar security and privacy rules to those governing SMS text messages, mobile calls and landline calls. Now, online services are again in the middle of the European ‘security discussion’ – however, from a totally different view…

Germany and France demand stricter rules

Access to data – personal or not – has been a controversial issue in the last years and months because of higher security requirements due to recent terrorist attacks. But does more data really mean ‘more security’?
Well, online services should at least be subject to the same regulations regarding access to data as telecoms companies, say German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and his French counterpart Matthias Fekl.

“Germany and France have asked the European Commission to study the possibility of making internet operators subject to the same requirements as telephone operators,”

Fekl said during a meeting of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee in Brussels.

Remove terrorist content from the internet

Online extremism is not only an issue when it comes to encrypted messages. Terrorists are also trying to use the internet in other ways – social media, video channels and and and.. The internet is full of possibilities.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU home affairs commissioner, said the EU would be redoubling its work in the coming months, as the London attacks showed that “homegrown radicalisation … was one of our biggest challenges”. He talked to bosses of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in California and discussed an existing EU-led voluntary scheme to remove terrorist content from the internet, The Guardian reports.

And again the question comes up: How can demands of ‘security’ and ‘privacy’ be brought together?

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