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.
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.