Requiring Data Back Doors Would Break Encryption

Posted September 16, 2015 at 5:20am

Bloomberg View Editorial Board : “Big technology companies, worried about hackers and government surveillance, are starting to encrypt their devices and services more aggressively, often by default… Alarmed by this, U.S. intelligence officials want companies to be more helpful. One idea is to create special keys or ‘back doors’ that would enable the government, with a warrant, to access encrypted data when investigating terrorists and other criminals.”  

“On the surface, this seems reasonable… But dig a little deeper, and it’s clear that the risks of such an effort would substantially outweigh the potential benefits. Most pertinently, providing special access for governments could weaken digital security for everyone else. As a group of top computer scientists recently warned, it would undermine enhancements that have made progress in warding off hackers, make systems far more complex and thus more vulnerable, and create enticing new targets for cybercriminals.”  

“Creating back doors could also abet the efforts of certain countries to steal intellectual property. It could impose major expenses on U.S. tech companies, provide a boost for their overseas competitors, and slow domestic economic growth… For all that, it wouldn’t stop terrorists from communicating in secret. Islamic State doesn’t need to download WhatsApp to take advantage of encryption; open-source versions are easily found online.”