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Cybersecurity & Standards, European Policy, Government Surveillance, Privacy & Data

GEC Efforts Slow Pace of the Belgian Data Retention Legislation

The Belgian Data Retention Legislation was recently introduced with a provision that would undermine the security and privacy provided by end-to-end encryption.

CDT signed a letter to Mrs. Petra De Sutter, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration, Public Enterprises, Telecommunication, and the Postal Services, and to Mr. Vincent Van Quickenborne, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and the North Sea, which was delivered on 29 September 2021. In that letter, supported by more than 100 civil society organizations, we argued against the provision because it would require operators of encrypted systems to enable law enforcement to be able to access on request content produced by specific users after a specified date in the future.

Our arguments against the Belgian Data Retention Legislation include: technical infeasibility, putting at risk Belgians’ privacy rights and confidentiality, risking attacks to all sectors including governments, and putting its business sector at a competitive disadvantage.

The letter is reported to have had a strong impact on the progress of the legislation, which at one time looked close to unstoppable. The Belgian Government is now looking at redrafting the provision on encryption and hearings have been called to question why the government is interested in breaking encryption.

The coalition building work that went into the drafting of this letter is part of ongoing efforts to coordinate globally with human rights and civil society advocates around the world. The Global Encryption Coalition has published letters to the European Commission, Apple, and most recently Belgium in an effort to keep encryption safe.

Updated: Friday, October 15, 2021.