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By Bruce Sussman
Mon | Aug 26, 2019 | 2:20 PM PDT

The Internet Society and a total of 30 organizations sent an open letter to world leaders at this week's G7 Summit.

The theme? Do not weaken encryption.

The letter reads in part:

"As you strive to tackle global inequalities at the G7 Leaders Summit and beyond, we ask you to recognize the particular importance of digital security for our digital economies and societies.

To be World Leaders in digital innovation and development, there is no room for weakening digital security."

What does the Internet Society request around encryption?

The letter on encryption asks world leaders to do some specific things and to not do others. Here's an excerpt:

"We ask you to prioritise digital security and express your commitment not to require, coerce or persuade device manufacturers, application and service providers to:

• modify their products or services or delay patching a bug or security vulnerability to provide exceptional access to encrypted content;
• turn off 'encryption-on-by-default';
• cease offering end-to-end encrypted services; or
• otherwise undermine the security of encrypted services."

These demands on encryption may have picked up steam after a spring 2019 G7 meeting.

At that time, leaders expressed support for law enforcement to have back door access to encrypted data—if approved—on a case by case basis.

Bruce Schneier on encryption; where does he stand?

This is a hot topic in cybersecurity circles. And when I interviewed cybersecurity thought leader Bruce Schneier at SecureWorld Boston, I asked him about the encryption debate.

So where does Schneier stand on encryption? He supports strong encryption, the kind that provides data privacy for everyone with no backdoors for anyone.

In the United States, Schneier says the FBI and National Security Administration are essentially talking out of both sides of their mouths on the issue:


"They have this weird definition of security, which means security from everyone except them. Which we as technologists can't actually build. And they are pushing for insecure protocols at the same time they're complaining about lack of security."

There's no telling how long the encryption debate will continue, or if it will ever be settled. 

Here's the Internet Society's open letter to G7 leaders on encryption if you'd like to read it for yourself.