Encryption has always irked law enforcement agencies and now William Barr, the US General Attorney, has launched a fresh attack against consumer encryption. He says that tech companies must co-operate with government institutions in bypassing encryption deployed in messages during critical cases.
Encryption is ubiquitous as most tech companies including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Apple use it to protect the privacy of its users. Government agencies have always blamed encryption acts as a roadblock in investigating serial criminals.
Speaking onstage during the International Conference on Cybersecurity in New York, Mr. Barr said encryption is a threat to public safety and national security.
“Warrant-proof encryption is also seriously impairing our ability to monitor and combat domestic and foreign terrorists,” said Barr.
Barr’s comments echo the feds’ demands of providing law enforcement agencies access to encrypted messages when needed. Instead of coming up with alternative methods, Barr said that tech firms “can and must” implant backdoors in encrypted messages to make them accessible to government agencies.
Deploying backdoors in encryption comes with a security risk, but Barr says that the risk isn’t significant since “we are talking about consumer products and services such as messaging, smart phones, e-mail, and voice and data applications,” and “not talking about protecting the nation’s nuclear launch codes.”
Encryption is one of the most successful techniques of keeping the privacy of users intact and the US Attorney General’s remarks come at a time when more and more companies are trusting the privacy of their users with encryption techniques.
Offering backdoors in encryption for federal agencies could pose serious problems to the privacy of users. It is similar to handing over a powerful weapon to a powerful organization without caring about its consequences.