At a glance.
- Opponents of the Online Safety Bill speak out.
- EU Cyber Solidarity Act to be considered by European Commission.
Opponents of the Online Safety Bill speak out.
The UK’s proposed Online Safety Bill (OSB) is set to be heard by the House of Lords this week, and the Register reports that opponents of the legislation are voicing their concerns. The OSB calls for the weakening of encryption on messaging apps, and the country’s chartered institute for IT, the BCS (formerly the British Computer Society) has expressed worries that such a move could allow the government to spy on users’ private messages. BCS chief executive Rashik Parmar stated, “It’s the wrong time to weaken encryption when it is vital to public trust in the value of technology. Every genuine tech professional wants children to be safe online; but we need to guard the basic security that underpins everyone’s privacy.” He went on to say that creating a government backdoor to private messaging could attract threat actors seeking to access users’ messages for malicious activity. The companies behind such messaging apps agree. The BBC reports that end-to-end-encrypted communication platforms Element, Session, Signal, Threema, Viber, WhatsApp and Wire yesterday published an open letter calling for the government to reconsider the bill. "Weakening encryption, undermining privacy and introducing the mass surveillance of people's private communications is not the way forward,” the letter reads, adding that the OSB could allow for "routine, general and indiscriminate surveillance" of personal messages” and could embolden “hostile governments who may seek to draft copycat laws." A government official responded by explaining that it’s possible to work toward internet safety while still ensuring user privacy. "We support strong encryption," the official said, "but this cannot come at the cost of public safety. Tech companies have a moral duty to ensure they are not blinding themselves and law enforcement to the unprecedented levels of child sexual abuse on their platforms. The Online Safety Bill in no way represents a ban on end-to-end encryption, nor will it require services to weaken encryption."
EU Cyber Solidarity Act to be considered by European Commission.
The European Commission yesterday announced the adoption of a proposal for the EU Cyber Solidarity Act. As the measure’s name implies, it aims to increase collaboration across EU member states when it comes to cybersecurity crisis management and response capabilities. As well, lawmakers hope the act will strengthen cybersecurity capacities and preparedness of European critical infrastructure by supporting increased detection and awareness of cybersecurity threats and incidents. The announcement states, “The Cyber Solidarity Act establishes EU capabilities to make Europe more resilient and reactive in front of cyber threats, while strengthening existing cooperation mechanism. It will contribute to ensuring a safe and secure digital landscape for citizens and businesses and to protecting critical entities and essential services, such as hospitals and public utilities.” The measure calls for the creation of a European Cybersecurity Shield – “a pan-European infrastructure of composed of national and cross-border Security Operations Centres (SOCs) across the EU” – and a comprehensive Cyber Emergency Mechanism that will allow for swifter, more effective detection of major cyber threats. It also proposes the creation of a EU Cybersecurity Skills Academy to help better prepare cybersecurity professionals at European and national levels.