US Considering Outlawing End-to-End Encryption

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Time and time again, this issue goes back to a mass shooting that happened in San Bernadino, California, in 2015. The shooters were killed in the attack, but an iPhone was left behind. Law enforcement was not able to gather data off the phone because it was locked. This started the fight between the law and Apple, who refused to provide a backdoor to their phones.

Four years later, it continues to be an issue. Every time the law discovers a way around the problem, Apple tightens its security more. And now that encryption is being used by more and more tech companies, the United States is considering banning end-to-end encryption.

“Going Dark” Problem

End-to-end encryption prevents anyone other than the sender and the recipient from knowing what was in a message by scrambling it. This happens without you even knowing it, as by the time you receive a message, such as in iOS’s Messages app or in WhatsApp, it’s already been unscrambled.

But this just doesn’t sit right with the law, that communication is happening, and they have no way of knowing what you are talking about.

Last week the U.S. National Security Council discussed the problem they describe as “going dark,” as they see encryption being included into more and more platforms. They are considering asking Congress to outlaw end-to-end encryption.

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Apple, as well as other tech companies, rely on encryption to gain their users’ trust. In fact, Apple consistently pushes that ideal, that they care about user safety. The tech industry believes that if they provide backdoors for law enforcement and government, hackers could find a way through it.

But law enforcement knows that encryption sometimes stands in their way of solving crimes. The government officials at the meeting last week considered whether they should continue to look for a solution to “going dark” or whether they should ask lawmakers to outright ban end-to-end encryption.

For the areas of government that enforce safety, such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, they see encryption as vital. But for those who are looking to catch criminal activity, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they feel blocked. The Commerce Department sees issues with economic security, and the State Department believes it could lead to diplomatic consequences.

The Future of Such Legislation

It’s not believed such a thing can pass Congress, and there is known opposition to such a thing. And Apple, along with other tech companies, will continue to be against something so integral to their users and that they know gives their users a reason to use their systems and devices.

What is your opinion on the government considering such a thing? Do you think legislation to ban end-to-end encryption could be passed? Or do you think there is just way too much opposition? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. I am shocked that in the “Land of the Free” such a law is even considered. OTOH, I am not surprised since the government wants to know EVERYTHING that is going on. We are sliding down a slippery slope towards a police state that will make 1984 and the worst oppressive regimes to date seem like child’s play.

    1. You can consider immigrating to Germany. They are considering a similar proposal here although the good beer will make up for some of the lost privacy.

  2. Access to an encrypted phone should be allowed for criminal investigation especially for cases like the one mentioned above

    1. Sounds like a fishing expedition to me. Was anything pertinent to the investigation found on the San Bernardino phone?

      If law enforcement wants to access encrypted phones, they should obtain a search warrant, just as they have to in all other searches.

      Would you turn your phone over if you were accused of criminal activity?

  3. Banning end-to-end encryption is kind of like banning guns, only criminals would have it. Additionally, there would be no way to police the law-breakers and enforce the law.

  4. If you give “access’ to one thing, the government will want more and more and more until you have no privacy whatsoever. It simply can’t be given unless it’s done so by the owner of the device. Period.

    Our government *should* turn this request down as if it were a pile of steaming dog doo! If it doesn’t, start to worry. They bitch about China spying, it’ll be even worse when our own government spies on *YOU*, much less China doing so.

    It is the duty of the patriot to protect its country from its government. -Thomas Paine

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin

  5. Why does the government insist on end to end encryption for its communications but wants to deprive the citizens of the same privilege? Maybe if every government in the world knew exactly what was going on with every other government, there would be no need for “national security”.

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