In today’s connected world, cybercrime and cyber terrorism have made encryption a necessary part of our daily lives.
But ironically, terrorism has turned the tables and put the right to privacy on trial, with multinational tech companies, and individual governments taking sides as to how, when and where privacy should remain protected in the face of “the public’s right to know.” But are some missing the point?
Fueling new controversy is a pending bill by North Carolina’s senior senator, Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr. Should it be signed into law, it would require tech giants to provide access to encrypted personal data on individual smartphones and other devices. A recent article published on McClatchyDC.com illustrates a new dimension to the debate: the prevalence of third-party encryption software.
The article cites Secure Designs Inc.’s CTO, Ron Culler, who warns that forcing tech companies such as Apple to provide encryption keys won’t necessarily deter terrorists from using smartphones and other devices to carry out their plans.
During the interview with the author, McClatchy’s Anna Douglas, Culler points out that any ‘bad actor’ currently has many application-based options to hide communications and location. Gaining access to protected data by unlocking a smartphone’s native encryption, Culler says, only addresses a small part of the problem. Even if major phone manufacturers were willing to compromise their own encryption software in order to accommodate national security officials, they don’t have the ability to extract information from encryption solutions provided on the open market by third parties.
A well-known expert in IT security and encryption, Culler’s experience in national security stems in part from 10 years in the U.S. Navy’s secure communications arm based in the Pentagon. From what he sees in the global Encryption Software market, the proposed law will have no beneficial effect as it does not address terrorism-related communications sent over phone apps that are not owned or operated by U.S. companies—and may in fact needlessly weaken native smartphone encryption for all.
This argument takes some of the steam out of Burr’s proposed legislation, which aims to neutralize the methods terrorists use to communicate.
As the article goes on to explain: ‘Culler – like Apple CEO Tim Cook – said he was concerned that the government’s request for software companies to create encryption workarounds could lead to the keys falling in the wrong hands, compromising security for all users.’
Read more on this important topic at: www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article78467652