Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook via WhatsApp. These four tech giants have partnered with several civil society groups, security experts and digital businesses, in order to condemn the proposal of the GCHQ. The agency of british intelligence, has a project to allow access to the encrypted messages, which are by definition unreadable to any person not being the author or the recipient. In an open letter published Thursday, the 47 signatories denounce "serious threat" that such a project would be for the digital security and the fundamental rights of Man. It has been signed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (association of the protection of civil liberties on the Internet) and Human Rights Watch-defending human rights). Among the signatories, who also included academic experts from Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and Oberlin.
This letter is further to the publication of information on the initiative of the GCHQ in November last year. Two officials of the intelligence agency have proposed a way for law enforcement to access encrypted communications end-to-end. Ian Levy, technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ), and Crispin Robinson, head of cryptanalysis at the agency, put forward a process attempting to force the encryption. They believe that it would be "relatively easy for a service provider to add secretly to a participant for the forces of law and order to a group discussion or a call." Concretely, the proposal suggests a technique that requires the services of encrypted messaging such as WhatsApp, direct a message to a third party, at the time it is sent to his primary receiver.
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According to the signatories of the open letter, it would be mandatory to make two changes to the systems to achieve this process. They add that the latter undermine seriously the security and confidence of the users. The first change relates to the providers of services. It would be necessary that these latter include a discreet new public key in a conversation in response to a request from the government. "This would transform a two-way conversation in a group discussion where the government would be the additional member or add one of its participants the secrets to a existing group chat", write the signatories of the letter. For the second amendment, it would ensure that the institution will be quietly added to the conversation. E-mail applications, service providers and operating systems would be obliged to modify their software. They should either change the encryption systems that are used, or trick users into deleting the notifications that appear regularly when a new communicating that you joined a discussion.
Reacting to this letter, one of the authors of the proposal, Ian Levy, said that the proposal was hypothetical and was intended only as a starting point for the discussion. "We will continue to dialogue with interested parties and hope to have an open discussion to find the best possible solutions", he explained.Updated Date: 02 June 2019, 00:00