Record number of policymakers show support on global encryption day

The second annual Global Encryption Day was held on October 21st under a simple message: “End-to-end encryption protects us all – that’s why we need to protect it.” This second edition, built upon the first edition’s successes and culminated in over 60 community events around the world, over 9,5 million interactions on social media, and over 2 million visits to the Global Encryption Coalition website, spreading the message further than ever before.

While the technical community and civil society have long been ringing alarm bells over incoming legislative threats to strong encryption, Global Encryption Day saw a record surge of new support from key decision-makers around the world, including policymakers and governmental agencies.

The strongest growth in support was seen in the European Union with Members of the European Parliament Patrick Breyer, Saskia Bricmont, Markétka Gregorová, Svenja Hahn, Petra Kammerevert, Seán Kelly, Marcel Kolaja, Moritz Körner, Karen Melchior, Mikuláš Peksa, and Birgit Sippel making pro-encryption statements on Global Encryption Day. This support was mirrored at the national level by Czech Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalization Ivan Bartoš.

Debate within the European Union intensified in 2022 following the introduction of a European Commission proposal to prevent and combat child sexual abuse that would effectively ban strong end-to-end encryption. This looming threat has spurred action across the union. Shortly following Global Encryption Day, the Austrian parliament adopted a binding resolution to oppose the proposal unless it is brought in line with fundamental rights and honors the confidentiality of encrypted private messages.

Traction in support of strong encryption was seen in the United States with Senator Ron Wyden advocating for its use as a safety tool. Similarly, several US government agencies including the Federal Trade Commission, Alan Davidson, Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and Jen Easterly, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency added their voices, emphasizing encryption’s importance in securing sensitive information.

Support for strong encryption was echoed by multilateral organizations. The United Nations Human Rights office of the high commissioner emphasized the importance of encryption in realizing the right to privacy while the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media pointed to the importance of encryption in journalism.

Together, these statements in support of strong encryption from key decision-makers point to a growing awareness of its importance and an acknowledgment of the very real threats that it faces around the world. Encryption is a critical technology that helps keep people, their information, and communications private and secure. The technical community must continue to work with its allies to protect this key security tool.

Global Encryption Day is the flagship annual event of the Global Encryption Coalition, a network of 300+ members that work to promote and defend encryption where it is under threat. The Internet Society is among the founding members of the coalition, together with the Center for Democracy and Technology and Global Partners Digital.