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Apple, Google, WhatsApp, Others Condemn GCHQ Proposal to Eavesdrop on Encrypted Messages

Apple, Google, WhatsApp, Others Condemn GCHQ Proposal to Eavesdrop on Encrypted Messages

Apple, Google, WhatsApp, and numerous other tech firms have joined groups condemning proposals from Britain’s cybersecurity agency to allow law enforcement to access end-to-end encrypted messages like those in Apple’s Messages app.

CNBC says 47 signatories including Apple, Google and WhatsApp have jointly urged the U.K. cybersecurity agency to abandon its plans for a so-called “ghost protocol,” in an open letter to GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters).

The U.K. agency has announced plans for a so-called “ghost protocol,” which would require encrypted messaging services to direct a message to a third recipient, in addition to the message’s intended recipient.

Ian Levy, the technical director of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, and Crispin Robinson, GCHQ’s head of cryptanalysis, say the system would enable law enforcement to access the content of encrypted messages without breaking the encryption.

The firms that signed the letter opposing the plan condemned the required changes to existing communications systems as a “serious threat” to digital security and human rights, and that they would undermine user trust.

Apple has long opposed weakened device protection in favor of law enforcement. The company’s stance was highlighted in the 2016 battle with FBI, which saw the Cupertino firm refuse to create a security backdoor that would allow the FBI to access data on the locked iPhone 5C used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

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