The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications.
The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying
employees that Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging.
The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology. Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the
University of Leuven explained:
It's like Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage but it's based on an encryption protocol that's very innovative. Because it's open-source, you can check what's happening under the
Promoting the app, however, could antagonize the law enforcement community. It will underline the hypocrisy of Officials in Brussels, Washington and other capitals have been putting strong pressure on Facebook and Apple to
allow government agencies to access to encrypted messages; if these agencies refuse, legal requirements could be introduced that force firms to do just that.
American, British and Australian officials have published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg in October, asking that he call off plans to encrypt the company's messaging service. Dutch Minister for Justice and Security Ferd Grappehaus told POLITICO last April that the EU needs to look into legislation allowing governments to access
Ofcom has published a wide ranging report about internet usage in Britain. Of course Ofcom takes teh opportunity to bolster the UK government's push to censor the internet. Ofcom writes:
When prompted, 83% of adults expressed
concern about harms to children on the internet. The greatest concern was bullying, abusive behaviour or threats (55%) and there were also high levels of concern about children's exposure to inappropriate content including pornography (49%), violent /
disturbing content (46%) and content promoting self-harm (42%). Four in ten adults (39%) were concerned about children spending too much time on the internet.
Many 12 to 15-year-olds said they have experienced potentially harmful
conduct from others on the internet. More than a quarter (28%) said they had had unwelcome friend or follow requests or unwelcome contact, 23% had experienced bullying, abusive behaviour or threats, 20% had been trolled'4 and 19% had experienced someone
pretending to be another person. Fifteen per cent said they had viewed violent or disturbing content.
Social media sites, and Facebook in particular, are the most commonly-cited source of online harm for most of the types of
potential harm we asked about. For example, 69% of adults who said they had come across fake news said they had seen it on Facebook. Among 12 to 15-year-olds, Facebook was the most commonly-mentioned source of most of the potentially harmful experiences.
Most adults say they would support more regulation of social media sites (70%), video sharing sites (64%) and instant messenger services (61%). Compared to our 2018 research, support for more online regulation appears to have
strengthened. However, just under half (47%) of adult internet users recognised that websites and social media sites have a careful balance to maintain in terms of supporting free speech, even where some users might find the content offensive
The Council of the EU could undermine encryption as soon as December. It has been asking delegates from all EU countries to detail their national legislative position on encryption.
We've been down this road before. We know that encryption is
critical to our right to privacy and to our own digital security. We need to come together once again and demand that our representatives protect these rights -- not undermine them in secret. Act now to tell the Council of the EU to defend strong
Dear Slovak Presidency and Delegates to the Council of the EU:
According to the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will meet in December to discuss the issue of
encryption. At that discussion, we urge you to protect our security, our economy, and our governments by supporting the development and use of secure communications tools and technologies and rejecting calls for policies that would prevent or undermine
the use of strong encryption.
Encryption tools, technologies, and services are essential to protect against harm and to shield our digital infrastructure and personal communications from unauthorized access. The ability to freely develop and use
encryption provides the cornerstone for today's EU economy. Economic growth in the digital age is powered by the ability to trust and authenticate our interactions and communication and conduct business securely both within and across borders.
United Nations Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression has noted, encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in
the digital age.
Recently, hundreds of organizations, companies, and individuals from more than 50 countries came together to make a global declaration in support of strong encryption. We stand with people from all over the world asking you
not to break the encryption we rely upon.