(SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA)–At RightsCon, the leading global summit on human rights in the digital age, prominent CEOs from the messaging app industry affirmed their commitment to protecting end-to-end encryption from regulatory threats during a panel with Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) Chief Technology Officer Mallory Knodel.
“We would shut down before we adulterate or undermine the privacy promises that encryption is the technological guarantee,” said Signal CEO Meredith Whittaker. “We do not have a reason to exist if not to provide a truly private mechanism for communications. That is where we stand.”
Matthew Hodgson, CEO of Element, added, “We’ll make a commitment to never undermine E2EE by implementing clientside surveillance – and even if Element is blocked from app stores as a result, we commit to continue to grow Matrix as an open, secure, decentralised network so users can run their own servers and pick their own clients and have full autonomy over their own communication.”
Noting that end-to-end encryption “is under attack in jurisdictions around the world,” Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp at Meta said his app is “engineered to be private from the ground up and Meta is committed to end-to-end encryption as an enabler of human rights.”
“Defending E2EE is crucial for privacy, security, and freedom of speech and opinion,” he said.
Raphael Robert from OpenMLS (Messaging Layer Security) said, “Privacy is the new frontier. Protecting data and metadata is vital in a connected world. The trend is that users demand more encryption to feel safe, not less.”
Knodel was encouraged by the group’s concrete commitments to support ongoing civil-society efforts led by the Global Encryption Coalition, showcasing their dedication to the principles of privacy and digital rights.
“As long as the E2EE app companies are strongly aligned, it will be much more difficult to cave on threats to encryption like allowing back doors of any kind, including client side scanning, no matter the jurisdiction,” she said.
Click here for more information on this session and other CDT events at RightsCon Costa Rica 2023.