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posted by janrinok on Friday February 23, @08:46PM   Printer-friendly

Cops have alternative means to access encrypted messages, court says:

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that weakening end-to-end encryption disproportionately risks undermining human rights. The international court's decision could potentially disrupt the European Commission's proposed plans to require email and messaging service providers to create backdoors that would allow law enforcement to easily decrypt users' messages.

This ruling came after Russia's intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSS), began requiring Telegram to share users' encrypted messages to deter "terrorism-related activities" in 2017, ECHR's ruling said. A Russian Telegram user alleged that FSS's requirement violated his rights to a private life and private communications, as well as all Telegram users' rights.

The Telegram user was apparently disturbed, moving to block required disclosures after Telegram refused to comply with an FSS order to decrypt messages on six users suspected of terrorism. According to Telegram, "it was technically impossible to provide the authorities with encryption keys associated with specific users," and therefore, "any disclosure of encryption keys" would affect the "privacy of the correspondence of all Telegram users," the ECHR's ruling said.

For refusing to comply, Telegram was fined, and one court even ordered the app to be blocked in Russia, while dozens of Telegram users rallied to continue challenging the order to maintain Telegram services in Russia. Ultimately, users' multiple court challenges failed, sending the case before the ECHR while Telegram services seemingly tenuously remained available in Russia.

[...] Seemingly most critically, the government told the ECHR that any intrusion on private lives resulting from decrypting messages was "necessary" to combat terrorism in a democratic society. To back up this claim, the government pointed to a 2017 terrorist attack that was "coordinated from abroad through secret chats via Telegram." The government claimed that a second terrorist attack that year was prevented after the government discovered it was being coordinated through Telegram chats.

[...] In the end, the ECHR concluded that the Telegram user's rights had been violated, partly due to privacy advocates and international reports that corroborated Telegram's position that complying with the FSB's disclosure order would force changes impacting all its users.

Originally spotted on Schneier on Security.

Ruling: CASE OF PODCHASOV v. RUSSIA, https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng/?i=001-230854 (javascript required)

Related: There is No 'Going Dark:' Law Enforcement Spent Months Intercepting, Reading Encrypted Message


Original Submission

Related Stories

There is No ‘Going Dark:’ Law Enforcement Spent Months Intercepting, Reading Encrypted Message 18 comments

There Is No 'Going Dark:' Dutch Law Enforcement Spent Months Intercepting, Reading Encrypted Messages:

To hear consecutive FBI directors tell it, unless legislators are willing to mandate encryption backdoors, the criminals (including terrorists!) will win. That's the only option — at least according to Jim Comey and Chris Wray — given that the FBI, with its billions in funding and wealth of brainpower, is apparently unable to decrypt files and devices simply by waving a warrant at them.

All evidence points to the contrary. What FBI directors refer to as "going dark" is actually just the temporary blindness that results from staring directly at the Golden Age of Surveillance sun. While FBI directors waste their time making everyone stupider, law enforcement agencies around the world (including the one represented by these particular misguided loudmouths) are putting plans into action.

Twice in 2021 alone, investigators around the world announced the end results of long investigations that involved taking over message servers or otherwise compromising encrypted communication services that were allegedly marketed almost exclusively to criminals. The FBI, in conjunction with Australian law enforcement, subverted and ran an encrypted messaging server for three years, intercepting millions of messages — something that led to hundreds of arrests around the world. A second investigation targeted a Canadian encrypted service provider, resulting in a number of charges being brought against its CEO.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by sigterm on Friday February 23, @09:18PM

    by sigterm (849) on Friday February 23, @09:18PM (#1345956)

    To back up this claim, the government pointed to a 2017 terrorist attack that was "coordinated from abroad through secret chats via Telegram."

    If only the government could spy and eavesdrop on everybody at all times, we could end crime! (Except crimes committed by the privileged inside the government, but surely those are well-deserved entitlements rather than crimes.)

    This is why people simply love to live under authoritarian regimes like those in Iran, North Korea, China, Venezuela, Russia, and perhaps Brazil in the near future, if the current government gets their way. As we all know, it's a constant struggle for these states to keep out all the immigrants that desperately want to become citizens.

    There's a reason why privacy is considered a "right."

  • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by DadaDoofy on Friday February 23, @09:20PM (5 children)

    by DadaDoofy (23827) on Friday February 23, @09:20PM (#1345957)

    Benjamin Franklin, an American who was highly respected in Europe during his lifetime, once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    Europeans would be wise to heed these word of wisdom before the enshitification of their 31 year young union becomes complete and irreversible.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by sigterm on Friday February 23, @09:44PM (1 child)

      by sigterm (849) on Friday February 23, @09:44PM (#1345966)

      Let me just point out that the EU is ruled by the European Commission, which proposes laws that are then put to a vote in the European Parliament. The proposals are not subject to outside scrutiny or debate, and are sent to the European Parliament prior to a vote.

      Members of the European Parliament sit in sessions where they typically get 5-10 seconds to vote on each proposal. No debate is allowed. If a proposal is rejected, the European Commission can put it up for a new vote more or less immediately, with or without amendments. They can do this as many times as they like.

      The members of the European Parliament are elected as representatives by the respective member states. Members of the European Commission are elected by the European Parliament, and are required to take an oath not to vote in the interest of their home countries, but instead put the interests of the Union first.

      I don't know what you would call a system like that, or why you would want to save it.

      • (Score: 2) by DadaDoofy on Friday February 23, @10:01PM

        by DadaDoofy (23827) on Friday February 23, @10:01PM (#1345971)

        Thank you for those important details. If I understand you, enshitifaction was intentionally baked in from the beginning, as a feature rather than a bug.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 23, @11:22PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 23, @11:22PM (#1345975)

      Benjamin Franklin, an American who was highly respected in Europe during his lifetime, once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

      Are you *sure* he only said it once? And in what context? [npr.org] I do not think that means what you think it means [imgflip.com].

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday February 27, @04:19PM

        by sjames (2882) on Tuesday February 27, @04:19PM (#1346487) Journal

        We're the General Assembly, government is the Penns. They'll take care of those bad ol' tewewists if we just agree that we have no right to shield our communications from their prying.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @03:46AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, @03:46AM (#1346007)

      Yeah, good ol' Ben Franklin.. he was a real founding father alright... Probably more than 15 kids, and that's just on this continent!

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