The news this past week has been all about the terror attacks in London. This is a horrific event. The pointless loss of life can never be allowed and law enforcement needs to do all it can in order to stop it. Law enforcement / governments should be asking for a back door in encryption technology. They should be trying to crack it.
We as citizens and technologists, can not allow them to succeed. We certainly can’t give them a back door to read all encrypted traffic!
Some of you may be thinking, “wait, those two statements are contradictory!”. I disagree. We, the general population, have a different set of motivations than the federal government. They’re not necessarily competing, but they’re not the same. The government should be trying to break encryption. If this stops some nut job countries who are trying to launch ICBMs at us, then yes! Stop them!
If they’re using broken encryption to spy on US citizens , then heck no, we won’t go.
What is encryption?
Encryption is a mathematical scheme that allows data to be transferred between two or more parties. Typically, modern encryption for the web involves a private and a public key. Party A (me) will share my public key with you. Party B (you) will share your public key with me. Within apps like WhatsApp or Signal handles the keys behind the scenes. The math allows me to alter data, using your public key. Then, I send you the data that you can use your private key to decrypt. It’s big math, that I definitely don’t understand, but it’s near uncrackable. The longer the keys, the harder it is to decrypt.
That sounds bad for law enforcement, let’s give them a back door
A backdoor is a short cut. It’s a ‘universal’ key that allows the key holder to read the contents. Think about it like a letter in the mail. I drop a letter in the mail, and since I glued it shut, no one else can read it (bear with my on this analogy). Now, law enforcement wants to make sure they know we’re not doing anything illegal. They want to peek into your envelope. They want a secret code to open a secret flap on your envelope that only they know how to open.
Ultimately, putting the back door in place for Law Enforcement is an awful idea and will only open the doors to the wrong people using the back door.
Imagine this. You’re at home, and the police department calls you. “Hey Mr Jones, we want a back door so we can know when some one is robbing you. We want to prevent rape, murder, pillaging etc. Just build a new entry way, and hide it. Only we’ll know where it is”. They make that call to everyone in the neighborhood, and everyone complies, because you know, “we have nothing to hide!”
All goes well for a year or so.. then all of a sudden, things go missing in everyone’s house. Identity theft goes on the rise and we can’t figure out what happened.
Remember that law enforcement back door? Yeah, the little hoodlum down the street found it on your house. Then your neighbors house. Then all the houses.
Think about it from the law enforcement agency (and this may be getting real, in today’s society). Since they have the back door, they can now log all encrypted internet traffic for finding later. Remember that bad thing you said about the president elect? Now he’s president…. and doesn’t like people who say bad things against you. Once he does a search to find who said bad things.. then.. he’ll do bad things *
Long story short, backdoors for law enforcement can sound good to some people. If they’ll prevent terror attacks or stop crimes ‘before’ they happen, then that’s awesome. The problem though, is that we would lose our privacy. That’s a non-starter.
- This is not a real scenario in the US.. Thank God on that…. let’s pray that it doesn’t ever get to that.