End-to-end encryption is a proven privacy protocol that that most messaging platforms promote as 100% secure. Lately however, intelligence agencies, law enforcement and politicians have been demanding that technology companies build ‘backdoors’ into their end-to-end encryption, citing terrorist threats and child specific abuse material (CSAM), as valid reasons to compromise their users’ privacy.
However, there are also a lot of good reasons not to eliminate the privacy that end-to-end encryption ensures.
Gimme the Keys
The Five Eyes Intelligence Community wants a back-door, and the head of London’s Metropolitan Police Department, Dame Cressida Dick, has gone on record saying Tech giants make it impossible to stop terrorists.
The UK government has taken the extraordinary step of announcing a new program to award five applicants up to £85,000 each, to develop the ability to detect child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online, without breaking end-to-end encryption. This is the very definition of a backdoor.
The UK is essentially paying hackers to defeat end-to-end encryption – and get paid for it. As long as they agree to turn the keys over to the government, presumably. What’s worse: trusting hackers to give the backdoor key only to the government, or the UK becoming a state sponsored hacker?
If at First you don’t Succeed…Try Again
In 2016, Apple, a company that prides itself on protecting the privacy and security of their users, rejected a request by the FBI and the US Department of Justice to build a backdoor into iOS, to allow them access to the contents of a suspected terrorist’s encrypted iPhone.
Flash forward five years and Apple announced they will build the backdoor they swore they never would. Not to scan for terrorist content, but for identifying CSAM. Thankfully, they backtracked after privacy advocates and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden identified the move as an attack on every iPhone users’ right to privacy.
One Key to Open them All
Breaking end-to-end encryption means breaking it for everyone. End-to-end encryption is not only used by technology companies like Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp to protect the content of their users’ messages, but also by law enforcement when communicating with agents and informants. End-to-end encryption enables journalists and whistleblowers to uncover the truth. Banks, healthcare and governments use encryption to keep your personal and financial data private and safe.
So why are there calls to break encryption? What would this accomplish? Is it encryption that makes a person a terrorist or a CSAM spreader? Encryption is one of the only computer technologies that’s nearly impossible to crack. It’s also what currently keep all our data reasonably safe in today’s lightning-fast online world.
Break encryption for one, and you break it for all – leaving every file on every computer accessible by everyone.
How can the result be anything but anarchy?