The Five Eyes Statement on Encryption

The Five Eyes, often abbreviated as FVEY, is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.

Earlier this September, law enforcement officials from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance — made up of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States — met in Australia and issued a Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption. The statement is strongly worded, concluding with a warning that if industry does not make it easier for governments with lawful access to content to acquire decrypted versions, the nations “may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.”

The Australian legislation, and the broader push for backdoors across the Five Eyes, reflects the deeply felt desires of law enforcement. But this demand for access to content ignores technical and security realities. The most important aspect of the statement the fact that the defense and intelligence agencies didn’t sign — and why they might not have.