India has joined hands with other governments of the world under the Five Eye Alliance to demand big tech companies provide backdoors to encrypted communications. Seven governments, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Japan and India requested access to end-to-end encrypted chats, as the technology prevents anyone from finding out what’s being said in these messages, except for the sender and the receiver. The governments cited national security as a reason to require backdoor access to popular messaging apps.
The Five Eyes Alliance is a post-World War II intelligence alliance that had come together to gather intelligence around the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. In more recent times, the alliance has made similar calls to big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Apple in 2018 and 2019.
The governments demanded backdoors not only to encrypted messages, but also to device encryption, and other encrypted apps and platforms. According to the statement issued, tech companies are unable to identify and respond to illegal content and activity on their platforms, and hence require governments to step in.
The statement also noted that end-to-end encryption makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies “to access content in limited circumstances where necessary and proportionate to investigate serious crimes and protect national security.”
The alliance made the following demands to the big tech companies —
The governments did agree, however, that encryption and privacy is vital for cybersecurity and must be protected for the larger masses. But at the same time, it should not be allowed at the expense of law enforcement agencies from being able to act on illegal content on these platforms.