Two Misconceptions In the Encryption Debate

The two misconceptions dominating the encryption debate

The Encryption Debate: Cyber security is a massive challenge affecting everyone –- start-ups, government, corporate systems and consumers, costing the global economy billions of dollars annually. Tragically, the one solution we are seriously considering — mandating encryption backdoors — will undermine the integrity of our networks, as confirmed by information security experts and the government’s own defense and intelligence officials . For the tech industry to become more effective in making its case for strong security to the public and US policy-makers, we all need to understand and rebut two critical misconceptions currently dominating the policy debate. “Going dark” or blinded by too much data? NSA Museum. Photo courtesy of Flcikr/Patrick Finnegan. The first key assumption is that law enforcement does not have enough data to combat crime and must therefore boost its capability to intercept and decrypt web communications. Let’s look into what data the government already has access to and whether it is being utilized effectively. The majority of global networks – including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Skype – operate with full visibility into user accounts and often their activities, rendering this data available to law enforcement with a warrant request. That includes metadata, a rich unencrypted layer in our expanding profiles – who we talk to, where and how often, where we spend time and with whom, and what our interests are. Widespread visual surveillance — from cameras on public utility polls and transport to commercial data collectors time-stamping and geo-tagging billions of photos of license plates – supplies an exhaustive picture of ourphysical activity. Law enforcement has access to a historically unprecedented amount of information, capable of mapping out countless connections between people, businesses, locations, and things – sometimes with and sometimes without a warrant. Current trends in technology are only adding to the pool of data that […]