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France and Germany are to pressure the EU to get rid of encryption, which is one of the most important parts of internet technologies and is a vital part of apps such as WhatsApp.
A ban on encryption would mean that encryption messaging services such as WhatsApp could become illegal if they continue to function as they currently do.
The French Interior Ministry stressed that government would only use the powers to monitor people who were being investigated. However, privacy campaigners argue it is impossible to weaken encryption for certain people, and proposed law changes would mean we were all open to state scrutiny.
The two countries plan to ask the European Commission to force technology companies to limit the encryption that is used to keep messages private, because it prevents governments being able to monitor the communication of suspected terrorists.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that he and his German counterparts would ask the European Commission to limit encryption across the continent at an EU summit next month.
Mr Cazeneuve said: "Exchanges carried out via applications like Telegram must be identified and used in the course of judicial proceedings.
"We propose that the EU Commission studies the possibility of a legislative act introducing rights and obligations for operators to force them to remove illicit content or decrypt messages as part of investigations, whether or not they are based in Europe."
But activists believe that technology is central to ensure that all behaviour on the internet is kept private, not just messaging apps. For example, encryption also ensures that banking transactions and other important and intimate information is kept secret.
Similar intentions have been announced by the UK government in the past but never passed into legislation. The UK is still part of the EU until Article 50 is triggered and would be impacted by any changes in European legislation until a full British withdrawal from the EU happens.
Words by James Dawson
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