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French, German ministers to meet in push to counter encrypted messaging apps

France's interior minister on Thursday announced plans to meet with a German counterpart and tackle the issue of encrypted messaging apps, which he argued are preventing intelligence agencies from fighting terrorism.




The two will get together on Aug. 23 in Paris, and discuss a European plan with the ultimate goal of international action, Reuters said. France's Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters that encryption is a "central issue" in combating terrorism.

"France will make proposals. I have sent a number of them to my Germany colleague," he added.

France has been hit with a number of Islamist terrorist attacks in the past two years. In a recent incident involving the murder of a priest in Rouen, one of the attackers regularly communicated with followers via Telegram, a messaging app mostly popular outside the U.S. Like Signal, WhatsApp, and Apple's own Messages, Telegram offers end-to-end encryption —something so secure that even an app's creators can't intercept conversations.

Spy and law enforcement agencies around the world have regularly complained about encryption causing communications to "go dark." A number of corporations and privacy groups, Apple among them, have countered that many well-intentioned individuals need the technology as protection against hackers, criminals, and potentially malicious government entities.

It's not clear what kind of measures French and European governments might take, but some U.S. politicians and officials have backed measures that would force app creators to offer a backdoor, and/or decryption on demand. To date these haven't succeeded, and companies like Apple have argued that they would fundamentally weaken security.