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France and Germany latest countries to want magical backdoors in encryption

Published Aug 24th, 2016 5:20PM EDT

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The recent NSA hack just proved to the world that no system is hack-proof if attackers have what it takes to break the access door. Regardless of whatever protections guarded that NSA server, hackers found a security hole to get in and steal critical documents. The same thing could happen to encrypted services that would feature a backdoor for law enforcement.

But governments around the world still think they’d be able to handle such terrifying scenarios, with France and Germany being the latest nations looking to gain access to private encrypted messages exchanged over the internet by terror plot suspects.

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It’s understandable why France and German are interested in heightened digital security, considering the many terrorist attacks that have hit the European region.

“Messages exchanged through certain apps such as Telegram must be decrypted and used as evidence by magistrates and investigators as part of legal proceedings,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said during a joint press conference with his German counterpart German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the two countries are seeking new legislation that would allow spy agencies to demand access to a suspect’s communications, and impose “obligations” on operators unwilling to help.

The proposed laws would force companies including Apple, WhatsApp, Telegram, and many others, to build backdoors into their messaging systems, something that’s highly unlikely to happen.

“Some terrorists and criminals are ahead of us on the technology front. That’s not right,” de Maizière said.

But breaking encryption isn’t right either. The Computer & Communications Industry Association, representing Amazon, Facebook, Google, eBay, and others already took notice of the matter. “It is certainly understandable that some would respond to recent tragedies with back doors and more government access,” the director for Europe of the association, Christian Borggreen, said. “But weakened security ultimately leaves online systems more vulnerable to all types of attacks from terrorists to hackers.”

This fall, the European Commission is expected to come up with new rules on privacy and security for telecom operators to include third-party services such as WhatsApp or Telegram.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.