Answer to Written Question: Security despite encryption

(Source: European Parliament)

EN

E-001804/2021

Answer given by Ms Johansson

on behalf of the European Commission

(4.6.2021)

As stated in the EU Strategy to Tackle Organised Crime[1], encryption is essential to the digital world, securing digital systems and transactions and also protecting a series of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, privacy and data protection. However, if used for criminal purposes, it masks the identity of criminals and hides the content of their communications.

Beyond mainstream devices, the niche market for encrypted communication devices, which are also acquired and used by organised crime groups, is on the rise. As showcased by the recent EncroChat and Sky ECC operations, EU law enforcement authorities need to continuously develop their capacity to deal with encrypted information in the context of criminal investigations, in line with applicable laws.

The Commission will steer the process to analyse with the relevant stakeholders the existing capabilities and approaches for lawful and targeted access to encrypted information in the context of criminal investigations and prosecutions. These approaches should not result in a general weakening of encryption or in indiscriminate surveillance. They will focus on the current obstacles but also anticipate the evolution of encryption. The Commission is also enhancing its efforts in the field of standardisation to maintain lawful interception capabilities in the context of 5G and beyond.

As a result of this process, the Commission will suggest a way forward in 2022 to address the issue of lawful and targeted access to encrypted information in the context of criminal investigations and prosecutions that shall be based on a mapping of how Member States deal with encryption together with a multi-stakeholder process to explore and assess the concrete options (legal, ethical and technical).


[1] COM(2021) 170 final.

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