Trading A False Sense Of Security On Terrorism For Backdoors To Encryption
Every time there’s a terrorist attack, politicians try to rally public support for government backdoors to encryption. Without evidence to support claims that backdoors will actually prevent terrorist attacks, why do governments want them so badly? And how much freedom should anyone surrender in the name of fighting terrorism?
FBI Director James Comey claims the government can’t do its job when it comes to preventing terrorism without the ability to eavesdrop on private conversations. Standing in the way of the information Comey wants is encryption. His solution is to have Congress pass laws that force tech companies to build backdoors into the software that runs on computers and smartphones, then give the FBI the keys to spy on those devices.
However, the power the FBI seeks would not be limited to a relatively small number of potential terrorists. Those encryption keys could be used on millions of electronic devices. The potential for abuse is monumental, and some believe the risks far outweigh the limited benefits.
Security expert Bruce Schneier suggests that the entire concept of giving the FBI encryption backdoors won’t stop terrorism.
Imagine that Comey got what he wanted. Imagine that iMessage and Facebook and Skype and everything else US-made had his backdoor. The ISIL operative would tell his potential recruit to use something else, something secure and non-US-made.
So, what the FBI would end up with is a way to spy on millions of Americans without legitimately increasing their chances of preventing terrorism.
Other problems with deliberately creating security holes are hackers and human error. It’s only a matter of time before the backdoors are exposed. This was demonstrated in August, when Microsoft “accidentally” leaked their backdoor keys to bypass UEFI secure boot on Windows operating systems. And, as Hacker News pointed out, “It will be impossible for Microsoft to undo its leak.”
There’s another aspect to the encryption debate that is less talked about, but equally important. For more than 200 years, Americans have fought and died for their freedoms. While these sacrifices generally took place in war zones, our 21st century battlefields are held in our hands, sit on our desks, and rest in our pockets. None of these places should be open to government spying; because if they are, the last bastion of American liberty will be forever lost.
*** Maryann Tobin is the author of “Afterlife: The Journey Of A Dog’s Spirit”
This heartwarming story is told through the eyes of an animal spirit that has been sent back to earth in the body of a small dog. His mission is to help a young woman discover that their destinies are more connected to the powers of the Spirit World than either of them ever imagined. If you’ve ever shared your life with a dog or any other pet, you will never look at them the same way again after reading this book. Afterlife: The Journey of a Dog’s Spirit is available now on Amazon.com.