The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has proposed to 47 companies to start eavesdropping on encrypted messages, some of these companies include Apple, Microsoft, WhatsApp, and Google. The companies strongly disagreed with it. Law fare published a letter that explained how the companies believed this would “undermine the authentication process that enables users to verify that they are communicating with the right people, introduce potential unintentional vulnerabilities, and increase risks that communications systems could be abused or misused.”
This proposal was published back in November as a part of a series of essays. It by all means does not mean it will be implemented, it was merely just a suggestion. They suggested that the law enforcement should be added as a “ghost” to all encrypted messages/conversations.
Being added as a “ghost” would be like CC’ing the intelligence agencies, but without users knowing. Compared to the eavesdropping on unencrypted phone calls today, the authors argued that this proposal is no more invasive than today’s tactics.
This new proposal would eliminate the back doors of encryption protocols, but at the same time it would “seriously undermine user security and trust.” It would also require messaging apps to change their whole encryption process, as well as deceive their users by hiding who can see their conversations.
Ian Levy, the original creator of the proposal, responded to the open letter and said that it was only “hypothetical” and the purpose of it was to start conversation and discussion. “We will continue to engage with interested parties and look forward to having an open discussion to reach the best solutions possible,” Levy quoted in a statement to CNBC.