A week ago news broke that the FBI had drafted a resolution for Interpol to release condemning the use of strong encryption. Ultimately the resolution was not passed, with Interpol contacting Nicole Perloth with the New York Times to deny the resolution was ever under consideration.
When the story first came out, we wrote:
“There is no doubt the resolution was drafted, with both Reuters and Ars Technica having seen a copy of it. The only question is whether Reuters’ sources about Interpol’s intentions were incorrect, or whether Interpol is attempting to backpedal after the news broke.”
In an update by Reuters, it appears Interpol was backpedaling.
“The international police organization Interpol put off plans to condemn the spread of strong encryption after objections by tech companies and civil liberties advocates, according to two people familiar with the matter.
“After the Reuters article appeared, Facebook and others complained that strong encryption also deters criminal hacking and surveillance of peaceful political activists by repressive regimes, the people said.
“Conference organizers told some who had attended that they were surprised by the feedback and delayed putting out a statement while they reconsidered, those people said.”
Interpol is still denying there was ever any plans to release the statement and the agency did not return Reuters’ request for comments.
If Reuters’ sources are correct, it is reassuring Interpol was willing to hold off in response to feedback and criticism of the proposal. At the same time, it’s still disconcerting the agency was surprised by the pushback and shows how little understood the privacy issue is—even by those who should understand it best.