Dutch government rejects encryption laws

Dutch government rejects encryption laws
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The Netherlands on Monday came out against any type of legislation that would guarantee government access to encrypted data.

“The government believes that it is currently not desirable to take legal measures against the development, availability and use of encryption within the Netherlands,” Ard van der Steur, the Dutch minister of security and justice, wrote in the statement, translated by tech news site The Daily Dot.


The stance is the latest move in the growing international fight over encryption standards. In the wake of the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., governments worldwide are debating whether to force companies to decrypt data upon government request.

Proponents — including a number of U.S. lawmakers — say such a mandate would help law enforcement better uncover potential terrorist plots being planned on encrypted platforms invisible to officials. The British government, for instance, is backing a law that would ensure government access to certain secured data.

But tech companies have countered that this type of guaranteed access would expose people’s sensitive data to hackers and spies, as well as to legitimate investigators.

The Dutch government sided with the tech community in its statement.

“Encryption supports respect for privacy and the secret communication of citizens by providing them a means to communicate protected data confidentially and with integrity,” Van der Steur wrote.

“This is also important for the exercise of the freedom of expression," he added. "For example, it enables citizens, but also allows empowers important democratic functions like journalism by allowing confidential communication.”

Major tech players also argue that uncrackable encryption is vital to a company’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. Van der Steur supported the argument.

“Confidence in secure communication and storage data is essential for the future growth potential of the Dutch economy, which is mainly in the digital economy,” he said.

The language mirrors some of the most recent messaging on encryption from the Obama administration.

After months of deliberation, the White House decided it would not pursue any encryption legislation for the time being. The Dutch government similarly left the door open for future legislation when it said a law was “currently not desirable.”

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam Emboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes MORE (R-N.C.) has vowed to introduce a bill requiring companies to decrypt data upon request sometime in the coming months. But many are wary Burr will have the support to pass such a bill.