A group of 47 companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft and WhatsApp have sharply criticized a proposal from the British intelligence agency GCHQ to intercept encrypted messages. In a open letter published on lawfare the companies say the plans undermine security, threaten trust in encrypted messaging services and ultimately endanger citizens' right to privacy and freedom of expression.
The GCHQ proposal was first published in November last year as part of a series of essays, and does not necessarily reflect a legislative agenda of the intelligence agency on this point. In the essay, two British intelligence officials argue that law enforcement should be added as a "ghost" participant in every message with encrypted messages.
This would mean that intelligence services would be centered in encrypted messages without users knowing that they are in a chat. The authors of the proposal claim that this solution is no more invasive than current practices for tapping unencrypted telephone conversations.
While this approach would eliminate the need to add back doors to encryption protocols, yesterday's signatories claim that this solution would still seriously undermine & # 39; user safety and trust. & # 39 ;. They say the proposals would require message apps to change how they use their encryption and they should mislead users by hiding messages or notifications about who is in a chat.
In response to the open letter, one of the original author of the proposal, Ian Levy of the National Cyber Security Center, said the proposal & # 39; hypothetical & # 39; and that it was only intended to be & # 39; as a starting point for discussion & # 39 ;. In a statement to CNBC, Levy said: "We will continue to work for interested parties and look forward to an open discussion to achieve the best possible solutions."