The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Princeton University have convened a small group of experts to advance a more constructive dialogue on encryption policy. The working group consists of former government officials, business representatives, privacy and civil rights advocates, law enforcement experts, and computer scientists. Observers from U.S. federal government agencies attended a select number of working group sessions. Since 2018, the working group has met to discuss a number of important issues related to encryption policy, including how the relevant technologies and uses of encryption will evolve in the future.
The Encryption Working Group continues to monitor how the encryption debate is evolving internationally. Two sets of briefings, released in 2019 and 2021 respectively, detail the encryption debates in a select number of key countries and regions—Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union, Germany, and India—that were prepared by local and area experts at the request of the Encryption Working Group. They are designed to shine light on key drivers of the debates in these countries, how they have evolved in the last five years, and the divergent approaches taken by different governments. The briefs do not take a position on encryption policy, rather they provide analysis of how debates about encryption have evolved internationally. The views are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Carnegie or the Encryption Working Group.
In April 2019, the working group released two papers that were prepared by Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy at the request of the Carnegie Encryption Working Group as briefings to provide insight into future trends related to encryption policy. One paper focuses on the impacts of quantum computing and another paper addresses how market trends, consumer behavior, and engineering realities will shape the deployment of user-controlled encryption. The papers do not take a position on encryption policy, rather they provide analysis of the future trends related to encryption and how they will shape the issues that policymakers must address.
The encryption debate in Brazil, much as in Latin America and the Caribbean and across most of the globe, continues to be framed as a tension between, on the one hand, data and communications security and, on the other hand, accessibility for law enforcement and national security purposes.
The key issues around Australia’s encryption laws are oversight and the scope of the laws. Opposition parties and the INSLM want more oversight and a narrower scope. Intelligence agencies are happy with what they have, but they wouldn’t object to having less oversight.
The direction of encryption policy in India remains nebulous, balancing imperatives of the privacy of the individual, the security of digital infrastructure, and government access to personal data, a balance that has only become harder to strike following the unprecedented surge in digitization of government, business, and daily life during the pandemic.
Germany’s government has supported widespread, strong, and unregulated encryption. Instead of focusing on regulating encryption itself, Germany has worked to enable its security agencies to conduct targeted remote hacking operations.
The encryption debate in the European Union (EU) continues to evolve, with new drivers, stronger tools, and increasingly higher stakes. The debate among policymakers and experts is maturing, but there is a widening knowledge gap between political elites and the public around encryption.
Chinese encryption policy is shaped by two competing interests—political control and commercial development.
The decades-old debate between governments and key tech companies over encryption has flared up again. How can we have a more constructive debate about encryption? What issues should be prioritized?
Strong data encryption thwarts criminals and preserves privacy. At the same time, it complicates law enforcement investigations. A Carnegie working group looks to move the debate forward.
As fears of terrorism intensified, EU member states have demanded a European policy solution to questions around encryption.
In Brazil so far, neither legislation nor judicial decisions have drawn a definitive line on access to encrypted data.