Do You Think End-to-End Encryption Should Be Banned?

Writers Opinion End Encryption Featured2

End-to-end encryption continues to be a hot topic politically and with law enforcement. The law wants the option to search smartphones for evidence in an investigation. But the makers of popular smartphones bake protections into operating systems so that our data is kept safe, even from law enforcement.

But not everyone thinks they should be able to be protected and believe a backdoor should be included on the devices for the purposes of law enforcement. The United States is considering banning end-to-end encryption for this reason. Do you think end-to-end encryption should be banned?

Our Opinion

Miguel thinks banning end-to-end encryption “would be impossible, as you can always skirt the definition by law.” Yet, even if it were banned, it would just about guarantee that systems and networks would be more vulnerable to attacks. He doesn’t feel it’s “worth sacrificing the integrity and intimacy that E2E encryption creates” because some people take advantage of it for illegal, immoral, or other similar activities.

Phil compares banning encryption so that illegal activities can be more easily detected to “banning locks on the front doors of everyone’s homes so that police can just walk into any house they please.” He sees it as illogical and notes that wrong-doing is detected by police work and not open access. He believes the same rules should apply on the Internet as they do in real life with privacy and policing.

Sayak notes that end-to-end encryption isn’t limited to just one geographical area, as there are many working on the technology, with many U.S.-based cloud services hosting their encryption data in Europe and Asia.

Writers Opinion End Encryption Iphone

While you can force Apple to change their E2EE provider and restrict the data flow to the United States, he predicts that it would mean going back to old Internet access algorithms that were unencrypted, perfectly hackable, and not secure. “The problem is transnational, as it would impinge on the sovereign rights of other countries.”

Alex compares banning encryption to banning secrets. “Secrets aren’t the problem — criminal activity is the problem.” Financial markets and e-commerce wouldn’t be able to function without encryption, and all computer systems would become less secure, which would make it easier for hackers to steal money, as well as identities.

“A digitally-mediated society like ours cannot function without encryption, and anyone who suggests banning it immediately reveals themselves as a person who doesn’t understand the situation at all.” He sees banning encryption just to make law enforcement’s job easier, “monumentally foolish and myopic.”

Damien notes that just because the criminals are using end-to-end encryption, the government wants to ban it for everyone. He doesn’t think it will even deter the criminal. “So why is everyone being ‘punished’ for a law that will have no effect?”

I see no purpose for it. Bluntly, why should I have a less secure phone just because criminals choose to use secure phones?

Your Opinion

Our writers seem to all be on the same page and do not see a point in punishing everyone just because of criminal use of the same phones. Do you agree? Tell us in a comment what you think!

12 comments

  1. “…….believe a backdoor should be included on the devices for the purposes of law enforcement.”
    How many seconds after such app(s) is/are released will the hackers be using the same backdoors as law enforcement? Are law enforcement and intelligence communities ready, willing and able to forego encrypting their files and communications?! Or are we going to have the law apply differently to different groups of people?

    If end-to-end encryption is banned because criminals and terrorist can use it to pass secrets, will the freedom of assembly be also banned because people can pass secrets to each other orally? How about pencils and paper, sign language, smoke signals, etc, etc, etc? How about just banning any interaction between two or more people?

    “banning locks on the front doors of everyone’s homes so that police can just walk into any house they please.”
    I’m sure LEOs would appreciate very much not having to use force to break down doors of suspected meth factories. :-)

  2. As previously stated, its only criminality thats the problem. I beleive that once the authoprities (police or security) have a court order then the encryption proivider should be obliged to offer access on a one off basis. For Apple to hide behind “Can’t do it” should have seen the company put on the same basis as Huawei currently is.

    1. Do you really believe it will stop there? It is a camel’s nose under the tent flap. It sets a precedent. The definition of “criminal” and “security” will start expanding until “the authorities” will have open access to any and all communications between individuals because one never knows when criminal and treasonous idea will be discussed.

  3. What’s next – Big Brother already knows WAY TOO MUCH about everybody and everything. Why not just have ALL OUR PERSONAL INFORMATION available to Everyone! That’s where this is heading! Is not anything sacred anymore?

  4. Come on people! This is not the property of government, nor is it the proper role of government.

    1. Tell that to the Congresscritters that are going to be considering it.

  5. Another unconstitutional overreach by a government that’s already proven they can’t be trusted with our data. i.e. https://www.cnet.com/news/over-22-million-social-security-numbers-stolen-in-opm-hacks-agency-says/

  6. Rather than being banned, end-to-end encryption should be made mandatory….

    Henri

  7. Even if you banned every known encryption, people will still use it, but with plain text
    Consider the old book code. Two or more collaborators shared a book, known to them.
    They would indicate page, line word, in a sentence, and unless you had the same book,
    the message could not be hacked by the government.
    So, poetry would suddenly become illegal to email, as the codes could be there in.
    And if there is a library of books, the same message sent on a following day would have a different email as words would be taken from a different book.

    Block all encryption algorithms, and put in backdoors, and if you do that, online baking or online purchasing (on line financial transactions) would be a thing of the past. If the government could have a backdoor, the criminals will find it faster.

  8. Interesting, but banning encryption because of criminal activity is really analogous to banning guns because of criminal activity. Fight the criminals not the average law abiding citizen. Keep encryption and our 2nd amendment rights.

  9. end to end encryption sounds good. but what if terrorists and others use this as a backdoor for criminal activities. no thanks. i think US govt is taking the right decision.

    1. Terrorists and others can use face to face communication (speech, sign language) to arrange criminal activities. Should assembly by two or more people be outlawed?

      Terrorists and others can pass written notes to arrange criminal activities. Should paper, writing implements and the teaching of writing be outlawed?

      Prisoners in super-max prisons are isolated from each other, yet they manage to communicate. Would you put each and every inhabitant of the US in solitary confinement on the off chance that a few hundred of them might be hatching terrorist plots? Or that a few thousand might be arranging criminal acts? There is absolutely no way to prevent people from communicating with each other in some way. Laws do not prevent anything, they just provide for punishment after the fact. If laws prevented crime, there would be no murder, rape, bank robberies, speeding, libel, etc. etc. etc.

      Politicians pass laws claiming that they will “protect” us from this, that or the other. They try to justify the more contentious laws (such as end-to end encryption ban) with appeals to our emotions by claiming it’s for “national security”, to protect the “little ones”, to protect women, to “take the guns off the streets”. But in the end these laws only curtail our constitutional freedoms and erode our privacy.

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