The matter of security, privacy and whether or not the government officials can breach either of those two basic rights, will continue for several years to come. However, if it were up to FBI director James Comey, governments should have the right to lawfully access any type of device, even if it’s encrypted by the user or manufacturer.
Also read: Gold-Backed Cryptocurrencies: Innovative or Redundant?
The So-called “Going Dark Problem”
Whenever government officials want to invade user privacy, they have to come up with clever new terminology. In this instance, the term “Going Dark” has been coined by FBI director James Comey, which refers to the fact how “keys necessary to decrypt communications and electronic devices often reside solely in the hands of the end user.”
“As a result, a proposal was pitched by the FBI director to force hardware manufacturers to “bake encryption backdoors” into all of their products. In doing so, manufacturers would allow lawful access by government officials, assuming they can provide a lawful court order that is.”
“We are not asking to expand the government’s surveillance authority, but rather we are asking to ensure that we can continue to obtain electronic information and evidence pursuant to the legal authority that Congress has provided to us to keep America safe. Mr. Chairman, the Department of Justice believes that the challenges posed by the Going Dark problem are grave, growing, and extremely complex.” – Joint Prepared Remarks PDF
This joint statement is coming at a time when multiple rumours have surfaced regarding the US government – among others – working on decryption tools to break device encryption. According to the PDF file, “we [the government] should continue to invest in developing tools designed to mitigate the increasing technical challenges associated with the Going Dark problem”. Or to put this in layman’s terms, more funding is needed to continue on the development of internal decryption tools for all purposes.
Those rumours regarding the development of decryption tools by government instances are not entirely based on hearsay either. In recent weeks, multiple government officials have been calling for encryption backdoors. Especially Apple has been facing a lot of scrutiny lately, for making their latest iPhone encrypted by default.
It is important to keep in mind that, even though this joint prepared PDF has been made public, there are no congressional proposals to take things to the next level. As we have seen occur multiple times, these types of “guilt tactics” may force the hand of tech manufacturers in terms of compliance before making it a written law.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont stated
“Strong encryption has revolutionized the online marketplace and protects American businesses and consumers from cybercrime, espionage, identity theft, stalking, and other threats on the Internet. Undermining strong encryption could make our data more vulnerable.”
Privacy is a Basic Human Right & Should Not Be Invaded At Any Point
Regardless of what government officials may want to do, there is a good reason why manufacturers are encrypting devices from the start. Ever since Edward Snowden told the media about how the NSA conducts their business on a day-to-day basis, a lot of people have suddenly become aware of why privacy is so important.
And they should be. Even though most people have nothing to hide, and are in no way connected to any form of illegal activity, that does not endorse government officials to start snooping around. Granted, if they have a legitimate warrant, there is nothing that can be done. But the fact that government officials are openly admitting the development of their own decryption tools is rather worrying, to say the last.
What are your thoughts on this proposal? Let us know in the comments below!
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