Dutch Government Supports Encryption, Opposes Backdoors
from the living-in-fear-isn't-for-us,-thanks dept
Running somewhat against the grain of the current political climate, the Netherlands government has issued a statement strongly supporting encryption (for everyone, not just the government) and against the idea of intelligence/law enforcement backdoors. Patrick Howell O'Neill of the Daily Dot has the details:
The Dutch executive cabinet endorsed “the importance of strong encryption for Internet security to support the protection of privacy for citizens, companies, the government, and the entire Dutch economy,” Ard van der Steur, the Dutch minister of security and justice, wrote in the statement. “Therefore, the government believes that it is currently not desirable to take legal measures against the development, availability and use of encryption within the Netherlands.”This statement of support contrasts with recent efforts by European countries to institute encryption bans or backdoors. This is also somewhat at odds with recent efforts by this same government to grant greater surveillance and hacking powers to its intelligence/law enforcement agencies.
The statement also hedges its pro-encryption stance slightly. While generally opposed to mandatory backdoors, it does suggest service providers with the power to decrypt communications may be required to do so at the request of the government. The concluding paragraphs of the statement hint that investigatory/national security "needs" may occasionally outweigh the greater good of secured communications.
But overall, the pro-encryption statement shows this government understands the net positive of strong encryption. Sure, it may occasionally hinder investigators or intelligence operations, but it also defends against foreign surveillance efforts, state-sponsored attacks and criminals.
As O'Neill points out, the Netherlands may become something of a "safe harbor" for tech companies looking to protect their customers from neighboring governments who have opted to fight the War on Terror by engaging in a War on Encryption.
If strong end-to-end encryption is banned in major Western nations, countries like the Netherlands may become important islands of legal cryptography that stymie anti-encryption efforts.The debate over encryption has gotten to the point where encryption-friendly countries are viewed as pockets of resistance by their neighbors -- which is truly perverse, considering the efforts will do more to keep bad guys out than provide shelter for wrongdoers.