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Technology 3 June 2019

The Week in Internet News: Germany Considers Banning Encryption on Chat Apps

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Transparent chatting: The German Ministry of the Interior is considering new regulations that would ban end-to-end encryption on chat apps, The Register reports. The proposed rules would require operators of chat services to provide plain-text records of users’ chats under court order. Meanwhile, by saying it sometimes needs access to user communications, Facebook is creating a blueprint for German officials, Forbes says.

No, thanks: In other anti-encryption news, the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, has issued its own proposal to allow spy agencies to listen into chat and other encrypted communications. But U.S. tech companies, cryptography experts, and human rights groups, lined up in opposition to the proposal, notes Fortune. The Internet Society has also added its name to the letter.

Attacking encryption another way: Meanwhile, a new study suggests a quantum computer could break 2048-bit RSA encryption in about eight hours, reports the MIT Technology Review. The researchers “have found a more efficient way for quantum computers to perform the code-breaking calculations, reducing the resources they require by orders of magnitude.”

No need to ban encryption on the IoT: At the risk of this being too encryption-focused this week, we look at one more related story: A new report suggests that much of the traffic on Internet of Things networks remains unencrypted, reports Computerworld Hong Kong. Forty percent of IoT devices on enterprise networks do not encrypt their traffic, and more than 90 percent of data transactions performed by IoT devices in corporate networks were unencrypted.

Unconnected voting: A push to ban Internet-connected voting machines in the U.S. is gaining traction among Democrats, the Washington Post reports. More than 50,000 people have submitted comments on election security to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and several groups are pushing to disconnect voting machines.

A different view of privacy: Tech companies are pushing to change a California consumer privacy law that goes into effect in 2020, Yahoo News says. Among the changes proposed: Excluding employees from the law’s consumer privacy protections and allowing businesses to collect data for participants of rewards programs.

A safer world means strong, secure communication. It’s up to all of us to take action to protect encryption, protect our data, and protect one another.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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