Hungarian legislation enables encrypted communication

Analysis

Despite earlier expectations, legislation passed by Parliament yesterday to fight the spread of terrorism, does not ban the use of communication that uses end-to-end encryption, according to reports.

Originally, the draft proposal outlined that people using communication with end-to-end encryption could receive jail time, while developers of such software would be required to offer a backdoor to authorities in the fight against terrorism. 

After opposition parties expressed strong objection to criminalizing users of end-to-end encryption based applications, it has been dropped from the legislation, in addition to the clause in which the government would have been eligible to ask service providers to decode encrypted messages if suspicion of terrorist activities arose among users. According to industry experts, this would have been impossible to achieve, as not even the developers of encryption software are able to decode encrypted messages.

According to a report by 444.hu, the adopted law shows that Hungarian intelligence services have admitted that in the fight against terrorism messages do not carry as much relevant information as metadata, which contains the time of communication, the parties and their location. Under such legislation, service providers would be required to store metadata and provide it to intelligence authorities if suspicion arises, according to 444.hu. Service providers originally collected such data for billing purposes, 444.hu added.

End-to-end encryption involves the transfer of messages without the use of servers. Messages are encrypted on the senderʼs device and decoded on the receiverʼs device and cannot be opened by a third party.

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