Shortly after the release of the communiqué from the most recent ministerial meetings of the ‘Five Countries’ security alliance — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US — at the end of July, we warned that the issue of the use of, and access to, encrypted services and technologies ‘remains front of mind for the alliance and further legislative or regulatory action in the Five Countries may follow’.
This week, It became clear that three of the Five Countries planned to follow through. On 4 October 2019, representatives of the Australian, UK and US governments planned to release:
- an announcement of a new data-sharing agreement between law enforcement in the US and the UK under the US CLOUD Act, which would allow law enforcement agencies in each country to send requests for data directly to technology companies located in the other country, rather than via local law enforcement agencies (in an attempt to speed up such information sharing), with a similar agreement between the US and Australia subsequently announced on 8 October; and
- an open letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, calling on Facebook ‘and other companies’ to, among other things, permit law enforcement to obtain ‘lawful access to content’ while also delaying Facebook’s plans to implement end-to-end encryption on all of its messaging services.
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