Internet Society Netherlands joins Global Encryption Coalition

With over 300 members distributed across every region of the world, the Global Encryption Coalition (GEC) promotes and defends encryption in key countries and multilateral forums where it is under threat.

Encryption is the process of scrambling information so it can only be read by someone with the keys to open and unscramble the information. End-to-End (E2E) encryption provides the strongest level of security and trust, because by design only the intended recipient holds the key to decrypt the message. No third party should have a key.

source: Fact Sheet: How Encryption Can Protect Journalists and the Free Press

European Internet users have legitimate reasons for ensuring their privacy. This is especially true for certain professions such as journalists, civil servants, advocacy groups, and doctors. It is also the case for vulnerable communities including the LGBTQ+ community, abuse survivors, and minority groups. Research has also shown that laws that weaken encryption fuel business uncertainty and can result in economic harm.

In December 2022 ISOC Netherlands, therefore, joined GEC, as many other European ISOC Chapters such as Belgium, Finland, Germany Portugal, Switzerland, but also the UK England Chapter.

Internet Society Netherlands supports the mission of the GEC.

“Encryption safeguards the personal security of billions of people and the national security of countries around the world. However, some governments and organizations are pushing to weaken encryption, which would create a dangerous precedent that compromises the security of billions of people around the world. Actions in one country that undermine encryption threaten all of us.”

“As a global coalition, we call on governments and the private sector to reject efforts to undermine encryption and pursue policies that enhance, strengthen and promote the use of strong encryption to protect people everywhere. We also support and encourage the efforts of companies to protect their customers by deploying strong encryption on their services and on their platforms.”

Societal Impact

More awareness is needed on how encryption keeps us safe day by day. Hear from the journalist, James Ball, on how end-to-end encryption is critical for keeping journalists safe in the field and at home. Or from MENA region LGBTQ+ activist, Afsaneh Rigot, on why encryption is crucial for keeping people in marginalized communities safe. Or learn why encryption is a necessary technology to protect women and their reproductive rights in the US and many other places.

Developments in the Netherlands

The ISOC NL board has detected several policy issues to weaken encryption in the Netherlands, e.g. :

Previous efforts of ISOC Netherlands

  • Former ISOC NL Chairman Alexander Blom states: “This looks like a repeat involving the situation of the open letter from a few years ago, when the EU believed that making society safer by making a backdoor to encryption use mandatory, and ISOC chapters, led by Portugal, politely explained that this will not improve security, but actually damages security. As the ISOC NL board, we opted for signing at the time because we supported the arguments and also because we thought such a link-up of ISOC chapters was a good way to get involved in the European political discussion. I myself think that these are still valid considerations“.
  • In this video of GEC the efforts of ISOC Netherlands are mentioned as points with which you as an ISOC member can train yourself to help with the GEC cause.
  • Support for the “Make The Switch” Campaign for Global Coalition Day in 2021. In the days leading up to Global Encryption Day, the GEC was running the Make the Switch campaign. It urged Internet users to participate by Making the Switch to end-to-end encrypted services and platforms and to help champion strong encryption and encrypted platforms and services to your communities. The Make the Switch campaign will culminate in Global Encryption Day itself, a day of localized events and activities taking place around the world that put encryption front and center.
  • In September 2020, a number of members of the ISOC NL Internet Transparency Working Group came up with a proposal for a ‘responsible internet‘. The authors include the chairman of the working group, Prof. Dr. Ir. Cees de Laat, and also Prof. Dr. Aiko Pras (former ISOC NL board member). Their extensive work also covered several aspects related to privacy and encryption.

Learn more about encryption

Internet Society provides a course as an introduction to encryption which is intended to serve both as an overview and as a level set and foundation. Encryption is a key element in protecting us and our information as we go about our daily lives and as we interact with others online. It ensures our information and our communications remain confidential, protected, and available only to those for whom we intend. See here the background on the course or apply here for upcoming courses (member nova login required).

Internet Society has also published several Impact Briefs on the societal relevance of Encryption. Download the following:

Join the Global Encryption Coalition

You can register to become a GEC member as an individual or as a representative of an organization here.

image credits

Cover photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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