Five Eyes could be the name of an evil organization in a James Bond movie. In the real world, it is an alliance that brings together representatives from the areas of intelligence and information from five countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We cannot regard it as an evil organization, nor can it be naively placed on the opposite side. Five Eyes motto is security and the fight against terrorism, but some things that their leaders and governments propose under the pretext of this supposedly well-intentioned crusade do not seem to be good for the citizens. In reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in England, the group met on the 26 June in Ottawa, Canada, in an attempt to move forward in discussions with technology companies. The intention is to press these companies to give intelligence services access to the content of messages exchanged in communication services, such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Today this is not possible because the content of the messages is encrypted from end to end.
In Five Eyes’ opinion, this data protection facilitates the communication among terrorist groups. For the economist and entrepreneur with a focus on innovation and disruptive technologies, Arie Halpern, these companies are right in resisting this harassment. “Weakening the encryption means to make the system vulnerable as a whole, with serious consequences for people’s right to privacy,” he says. “In addition, a more fragile security system may also be invaded more easily by terrorist organizations, producing an opposite effect to that intended.”
One of the biggest enemies of internet communications confidentiality, the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Theresa May, accuses the companies of providing technology so that terrorists’ “safe spaces” can act. Another zealous defender of encryption limitation, the Australian Senator George Brandis, believes that the secrecy protection “is bound to degrade if not destroy our capacity to congregate and act in intelligence”, as he said to Sidney Morning Herald.
Contrary to these opinions, the initiative “Secure the Internet” produced an open letter directed to the world leaders encouraging them to support the protection and safety of users, companies, and governments, strengthening the integrity of communications and systems. “While the challenges of modern day security are real, such proposals threaten the integrity and security of general purpose communications tools relied upon by international commerce, the free press, governments, human rights advocates, and individuals around the world.”, is one of the arguments of the letter signed by dozens of organizations, companies, and individuals linked to technology and human rights.