The European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA) has slammed calls for Facebook to drop its end-to-end encryption plans.
UK, Australian and US officials have asked the antisocial network and other companies to delay plans to implement end-to-end encryption across their messaging services and provide law enforcement with access to users' encrypted content.
Facebook recently announced its intention to make all of its chat services, not just WhatsApp, end-to-end encrypted platforms that will place keys in the hands of the users themselves.
In an open letter to Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, last week, the three countries argued companies should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access.
"We must find a way to balance the need to secure data with public safety and the need for law enforcement to access the information they need to safeguard the public, investigate crimes, and prevent future criminal activity," said the letter co-signed by UK home secretary Priti Patel, US attorney general William Barr and Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton.
Responding to the calls, EuroISPA reiterated its support for strong encryption, which it describes as a "fundamental element to ensure cybersecurity and users' privacy".
Maximilian Schubert, president of EuroISPA and chair of the Cybersecurity Committee, said: "EuroISPA's members continuously work with law enforcement towards making the online sphere a safer space for businesses as well as individuals. At the same time, EuroISPA firmly supports strong encryption, as it plays a fundamental role in ensuring cybersecurity and users' privacy."
End-to-end encryption in messaging services, as well as cryptographic protocols such as TLS (Transport Layer Security) and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), are essential for creating trust in the internet, it said.
The body pointed out that weakening encryption "will always be exploited by ill-intentioned hackers, undermining cybersecurity and privacy for all users and businesses online. This would weaken that very trust and might result in a slower take-up of online services throughout the EU.
"Therefore, given the societal advantages of encryption and the negative effects of mandatory backdoors, EuroISPA opposes the request of the United Kingdom, Australia, as well as the United States. EuroISPA's members stand ready to collaborate with law enforcement authorities to assist them in criminal investigations." ®