Attorney General Barr says tech firms can and must break encryption - The UpStream

Attorney General Barr says tech firms can and must break encryption

posted Friday Jul 26, 2019 by Scott Ertz

Attorney General Barr says tech firms can and must break encryption

The topic of encryption may seem simple, but in reality, there are a lot of nuances involved. At first look, the idea of encryption is all about protecting your data from prying eyes. It's what makes things like authentication and banking systems possible, protecting your passwords, personal data, and transaction history. It is also the basis for blockchain, the technology changing how digital audit trails are maintained.

There are some who see encryption as a threat to everything from advertising research to national security. There are certainly some legitimate issues when it comes to legal challenges. For example, there was the San Bernadino case, where Apple refused to decrypt a device that locked because of a police officer's mistake. The government believed the phone held important information about the attack, but Apple's dedication was to its users.

A month ago, the US followed Australia's lead by discussing a law requiring a back door into encryption. Now, they are upping their campaign against strong security, with a visit by Attorney General William Barr to a cybersecurity conference at Fordham University. In his remarks, he said,

There have been enough dogmatic pronouncements that lawful access simply cannot be done. It can be, and it must be.

This is likely just the beginning of a public "hearts and minds" type campaign to win approval from the general public. Without the support of the public, there is little to no chance of getting a law that puts their privacy at risk through the legislature. However, it is important to remember that this is exactly what it will do. As was Apple's argument, once you create a back door, it exists. Period. The government will argue that they can keep the details of that security bypass protected, but you only have to look at WikiLeaks to know that is far from the case.

The key will leak, and all legally encrypted data in the country will be decryptable and available to everyone. This idea is simply one that allows the government to access your data without your permission. It is a law that punishes the law-abiding public and will do nothing to change what data is available to law enforcement when needed. Criminals, by definition, don't follow the law, and will not use legally encryption services. They will, instead, use services that don't implement a back door for law enforcement, designed specifically for the dark web. Therefore, the only data that will be available to law enforcement will be yours, and the government knows that.


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