European Parliament asked to ban digital spying 'back doors'

Despite pressure from some governments the European Parliament is being urged to support the banning of encryption “back-doors” in apps and digital services, which are ostensibly designed to aid the fight against terrorism.

Currently, end-to-end encryption in apps including WhatsApp and Telegram prevents any access to encryption keys to the companies providing the service or any state agencies.

A European Parliament committee wants end-to-end encryption to be enforced on all forms of digital communication used by EU citizens. The Conservative Party general election manifesto in the UK demanded back-door access to apps and digital services to help fight serious crime and terrorism.

But the draft legislation from the European Parliament committee is seeking to protect personal information from both hacking and government surveillance. It says personal privacy should extend to online communications. Its proposal seeks to amend Article Seven of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights to add online privacy. Before becoming law it will require approval by the European Parliament and the European Commission.

"The principle of confidentiality should apply to current and future means of communication, including calls, internet access, instant messaging applications, email, internet phone calls and personal messaging provided through social media," said the proposal from the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.