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US, ‘Five Eyes’ Allies Seek Public-Private Sector Commitment to Encryption Policies

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The U.S. attorney general and four government officials representing Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. have signed a joint statement seeking renewed commitment on encryption and data security.

William Barr and the allied signatories wrote in the statement dated Oct. 11th that they support strong encryption approaches that help protect privacy, personal data, trade secrets, intellectual property and cybersecurity.

The group said that law enforcement agencies are responsible for prosecuting crime related to data security while tech companies must ensure that end-to-end encryption technology enables user authorities.

Industry must also work with governments and stakeholders to inform system designs and address “serious concerns” on the illegal access of personal content, they wrote. According to the statement, companies should allow law enforcement agencies to access such content “in a readable and usable format” subject to legal approval.

“We are committed to working with industry to develop reasonable proposals that will allow technology companies and governments to protect the public and their privacy, defend cyber security and human rights and support technological innovation," the statement notes.

The signatories include Priti Patel, the U.K. secretary of state for the home department; Peter Dutton, Australian minister for home affairs; Andrew Little, New Zealand minister of justice; and Bill Blair, Canadian minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.