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Dear world leaders: We need you to stand up for encryption

We’ve joined with our friends at Access Now in a new global initiative to defend strong encryption.

In France, India, the U.K, China, the U.S., and beyond, governments are considering legislation and other proposals that would undermine strong encryption, despite the fact that our safety and privacy depend on secure communications tools and technologies.

Today OpenMedia joined 195 companies, organizations, and technologists from 42 countries, led by our good friends at Access Now, in releasing a joint letter calling on world leaders to stand up and protect encryption.

As the letter highlights, we believe that governments should protect encryption technologies, and secure communications tools. These technologies protect the security of citizens, governments, and the digital economy, and we cannot afford for them to be undermined.

All governments should reject laws, policies, or other mandates or practices, including secret agreements with companies, that limit access to or undermine encryption and other secure communications tools and technologies.  Users should have the option to use – and companies the option to provide – the strongest encryption available, including end-to-end encryption, without fear that governments will compel access to the content, metadata, or encryption keys without due process and respect for human rights.

The letter makes 5 key requests for how governments should handle encryption technologies:

First, governments should not ban or otherwise limit user access to encryption in any form or otherwise prohibit the implementation or use of encryption by grade or type;

Second, governments should not mandate the design or implementation of “backdoors” or vulnerabilities into tools, technologies, or services;

Third, governments should not require that tools, technologies, or services are designed or developed to allow for third-party access to unencrypted data or encryption keys;

Fourth, governments should not seek to weaken or undermine encryption standards or intentionally influence the establishment of encryption standards except to promote a higher level of information security. No government should mandate insecure encryption algorithms, standards, tools, or technologies; and

Fifth, governments should not, either by private or public agreement, compel or pressure an entity to engage in activity that is inconsistent with the above tenets.

As our communications and personal information are increasingly digitized, and malicious actors continue to try and find access to this valuable data, it’s critical that we have a safe place to communicate and store information away from prying eyes.

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