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Five-eyes nations want comms providers to bust crypto for them

Outsourcing the unicorn hunt

This week's five-eyes meeting has issued its communique, promising to get the tech sector to solve the problems of online terrorism and encrypted communications.

As is the way of political communiques, there's a carefully-crafted lack of detail (sufficient, for example, for plausible deniability) about what exactly is planned.

The communique explains the five countries need to “deal with the relentless threats of terrorism, violent extremism, cyber-attacks, and international instability, while retaining our deep commitment to the shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law”.

The relevant ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and the USA pledged their support for the recently-announced “Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism” (Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter).

About encryption, the HTTPS-hosted communique says it can “severely undermine public safety efforts by impeding lawful access to the content of communications during investigations into serious crimes, including terrorism.”

So – wake up, dear reader, we're nearly at the end of the bureaucratese – “we committed to develop our engagement with communications and technology companies to explore shared solutions while upholding cybersecurity and individual rights and freedoms”.

In other words, rather than passing laws to make crypto safely crackable and set the value of Pi at three, the ministers want the tech sector to do it for them. We think. ®

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