Tuesday's terrorist attacks were not only targeting human lives, but also the basic values of open societies. In these dark hours of grief and wrath, political leaders are called upon to protect both: Citizens' lives and citizens' freedom.
Terrorists' attack on open societies cannot be completed but with help from ourselves, and from our political leaders. This must not happen.
In the ongoing debate on how terrorism is best fought, one option proposed by certain circles comprieses strenghtening signal intelligence capabilities. According to these circles, the eavesdropping capabilities available to law enforcement and the intelligence community are insufficient for uncovering and monitoring communication of today's distributed and highly organized groups of terrorists and criminals.
Availability of virtually unbreakable encryption products to the general public is perceived as a major obstacle in the current battle against terrorism.
This perception is highly misleading. Any legislative activity based on it will inevitably fail to reach its goal. Instead, such activity would undermine basic values of free and open societies, such as citizens' right to privacy and private communication.
Such legislative activity would ignore the ample evidence that the problem of today's intelligence is not a lack of signal intelligence, but a lack and neglection of human intelligence and intelligent interpretation of the material collected.
Even the most sophisticated signal interception technology available will hardly be able to thwart stone age style secure channels used by terrorists, such as human couriers and confidential face-to-face meetings.
Cryptography is a key enabling technology for a safe information society. Obstructing the use of practically unbreakable encryption as a means of securing electronic communications will make our modern, information-based economies and societies even more susceptible to cyber criminals' and terrorists' attacks.
Stopping the spread of strong cryptography would amount to blasting holes into the civilized world's already-thin defense shield against digital harm.
We therefore urge political leaders and policy-makers not to restrict citizens' and businesses' freedom to communicate privately, using the best technology available.
Our societies and economies need this technology and its widespread use in order to defend against tomorrow's digital attacks.
FITUG creates connections to the virtual world of new media and data networks. From our statues: "The association's purpose is the fostering of the integration of new media with society, public education about technologies, risks, and dangers of these media, and the fostering of human rights and consumer interests with respect to computer networks." FITUG is a member of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC).
Extensive statement on crypto control
Global Internet Liberty Campaign
Förderverein Informationstechnologie und Gesellschaft