Five Eyes Alliance Talks to Focus on Encryption

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Australia’s prime minister said on Tuesday that officials from the Five Eyes alliance, which includes: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will gather next month in Ottawa, Canada in a meeting to discuss plans to direct technology companies and firms into disclosing encrypted data and sharing information with security and intelligence agencies.

Some time during the last week of June, attorney generals and public security ministers from Australia, the UK, USA, New Zealand and Canada will come together with officials from their intelligence agencies to discuss highly sensitive issues. This coalition follows a string of terrorist attacks that took place in England and has raised serious concerns within the alliance due to the ability of terrorists to conceal their means of communications from the police and security agencies. The rapid growth of encryption tools and apps can be dangerously used by extremists and terrorist to communicate through calls and texts in complete secrecy without any form of interception.

As a result, members of the Five Eyes will address the issue of how to ensure that “terrorists and organized criminals are not able to operate with impunity in ungoverned digital spaces online”, Malcolm Turnbull said. “The privacy of a terrorist can never be more important than public safety – never,” he said in parliament.

Technology giants, such as: Facebook and Apple have been pressured multiple times by different governments worldwide and are currently being pressured even more by the Five Eyes to collaborate with security agencies and give out encrypted information in order to prevent terrorist attacks.

“We need even stronger co−operation from the big social media and messaging platforms in the fight against terrorism and the extremism which spawns it,” Turnbull told the House of Representatives.

Turnbull ‘s words mirror British Prime Minister Theresa May comments on June 4rth that the “safe space” that allows terrorists and extremists to grow needs to be regulated internationally.

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace,” she said.

Although, Facebook and Apple did not comment on such requests, but they have previously rejected sharing any encrypted data out of privacy concerns as their products are being used every day by billions of people around the world.

Privacy advocates and civil libertarians are against this kind of surveillance as it is considered as a violation to law-abiding citizens that have the right to communicate in a private and secure environment. In addition, they argue that the individual’s right to privacy should never be forfeited in order to fight terrorism.

“These are countries which work very, very closely together. They share a lot of intelligence. Their people are interacting all the time,” said Greg Fyffe, a former executive director of the international assessment staff at the Privy Council Office.