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Leaked Document Reveals Spain's Proposal to Ban Encryption for Millions in the EU

2023

According to a leaked document obtained by WIRED, Spain has advocated banning encryption for millions of people within the European Union. The document, a survey of member countries' views on encryption regulation, revealed strong support among EU member states for proposals to scan private messages for illegal content, particularly child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

The proposed law would require tech companies to scan their platforms, including users' private messages, to find illegal material. However, this proposal has faced criticism from cryptographers, technologists, and privacy advocates due to its potential impact on end-to-end encryption, a privacy measure that allows only the sender and receiver of messages to access their contents.

Of the 20 EU countries represented in the leaked document, the majority expressed support for some form of scanning of encrypted messages to combat CSAM. Spain's position was the most extreme, suggesting that EU-based service providers should be legislatively prevented from implementing end-to-end encryption.

End-to-end encryption is designed to protect users' privacy, but law enforcement advocates argue that it hinders their ability to investigate crimes. However, experts have warned that weakening encryption can introduce vulnerabilities that compromise user privacy and security.

The leaked document provided insight into which EU countries support the proposal and highlighted varying opinions on encryption regulation. While some countries supported scanning encrypted messages while protecting end-to-end encryption, others sought to circumvent encryption altogether. Countries like Italy, Estonia, and Finland expressed concerns about the proposal's impact on privacy and online security.

The issue of encryption regulation has been a long-standing debate in the EU, with advocates emphasizing the importance of privacy as a fundamental right and critics pushing for measures to combat illegal activities. The leaked document sheds light on the complex and ongoing discussions surrounding encryption and its implications for online privacy and security.

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