Nov 24, 2015

Are anti-encryption advocates taking advantage of recent terror attacks?

There have been a lot of interviews and articles where “experts” are claiming that normal people having encrypted phones and other devices is enabling terrorism. Do they have a valid point, or are they taking advantage of recent events to try to prevent private ownership of securely encrypted devices?
They absolutely are using the deaths of innocent people to push an agenda. You have this push to weaken encryption from people who claim that it makes it more difficult to gain access to criminals' data. You know who else finds it more difficult to access other peoples' data as a result of encryption? That's right, criminals.

Law enforcement has fought a battle for years to have fewer and fewer restrictions on what they can legally do, and have tools at their disposal that allows extraordinary access into your private life. Whether it is the NSA storing all of your phone records or local police using Stingray to gain access to your cell phone calls, they have also fought long and hard against any sort of warrant requirement to protect citizens' privacy rights. Heck, they usually won't even admit that they use Stingray devices. Encryption gives the average person some protection against intrusion, both by criminals and law enforcement acting with questionable legal authority.

There was an InfoWorld article that talked about this earlier in the week. When anyone claims that encryption makes it hard to stop terrorism, keep this in mind:

"As it happens, we've since found out that the attackers communicated through normal, plaintext communications channels. (Note that Schneier's title is somewhat of a joke -- double ROT-13 encryption is no encryption at all.)

Yet we continue to hear from politicians and the mainstream media about how we need to add backdoors to encryption protocols, or do away with encryption altogether. According to Wired, the use of encryption will be a key issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Given the general buffoonery that already surrounds the contest, I suppose that adding one more completely irrelevant and nonsensical talking point shouldn’t be surprising.

The fact is all this talk of the encryption boogeyman is not based on facts. This rhetoric could only succeed with people who do not understand the technology -- but that might be enough to compromise the security of every person on earth and make criminals extremely happy."
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