IGF 2020 WS #230 Encryption, trust and crime online


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Sheetal Kumar, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Gregory Nojeim, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Robyn Greene, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Why is weakening end-to-end encryption a short sighted solution to a larger problem? How can stakeholders successfully balance privacy and safety on end-to-end encrypted platforms? What should their roles and responsibilities be? What technical options are available and feasible to ensure privacy and safety on end-to-end encrypted platforms without the need for exceptional access, backdoors, or weakening of encryption?

The main issues to be addressed will include the right to privacy, trust and security in context of the broader debate on end-to-end encryption. The central challenge to be addressed is how to reconcile the benefits of end-to-end encryption with concerns surrounding child sex abuse and other types of criminal activity online. This session is intended to be an opportunity for all relevant stakeholders to consider the broader issues and commit to working together on a rights-respecting response.


GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


This workshop will address the IGF's policy issue and subtheme of "trust" and in particular, the issue of end-to-end encryption. In the wake of the spread of COVID- 19, individuals and communities around the world have become increasingly dependent upon the internet to carry out their daily lives. They take classes, conduct work, engage in sensitive financial transactions and receive medical treatment online to an unprecedented extent. As a result, trust in the internet has never been more important. To build trust, more and more online tools and platforms are integrating end-to-end encryption to strengthen security and protect the users’ privacy. However, concerns have been raised by some policymakers, law enforcement officials and wider stakeholders that the broad adoption of encryption may impede efforts to investigate criminal activity, including the dissemination of child sex abuse material. In order to address this issue, the workshop will convene a diversity of stakeholders, including representatives from children's rights and womens’ rights groups, as well as civil liberties and human rights campaigners and social media companies’ representatives. By considering a range of technical and legislative proposals, panellists will debate the ongoing question of how to further extend the use of end-to-end encryption and protect the privacy of individuals online, whilst addressing online harms.

Expected Outcomes

The outcome of the session is expected to be the initial foundation for a framework to manage harms in an encrypted environment. This would ideally lead to the creation of a manifesto of broad areas that policymakers, academics, and practitioners should consider when implementing end-to-end encryption.

The moderator will ensure that speaker remarks are kept short and will invite interaction with the audience after their introductory remarks. Speakers will also be asked to respond to each others remarks and to take questions from the audience. The moderator will ensure that the onsite online moderator is integrated into audience questions. The moderator will also ensure that the audience is surveyed on key questions and points raised during the discussion.

Relevance to Internet Governance: This session directly relates to the role of governments, online platforms, civil society and other stakeholders in responding to the unique benefits and challenges posed by end-to-end encryption. One of the key issues here that will be discussed are the challenges and priorities of different stakeholders in the encryption debate, and their respective roles and responsibilities. This is an important facet of internet governance discussions more broadly. By bringing a diverse range of interest groups together, it is expected that great clarity and understanding of respective roles and responsibilities can be understood as it pertains to inclusion and trust in cyberspace.

Relevance to Theme: This workshop will directly address the "trust" thematic track. It will contribute to the narrative of this thematic track as it will foster dialogue on the relationship between security, safety and fundamental rights in the context of end-to-end encryption.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.