What it is: The European Union proposed banning backdoors on encrypted devices to protect citizens’ privacy.
Encryption is nothing more than math. At one time, Hillary Clinton suggested the United States embark on a Manhattan style project (which created the atom bomb) to find a way to crack encryption. The idea was to deny terrorists the ability to use encryption to mask their communication, but that idea has two serious flaws.
First, cracking encryption is always possible, but not always easy. The moment people find a way to easily crack encryption, other people come up with a newer way to create stronger encryption. At one time, banks used an encryption standard called DES (Data Encryption Standard) that most people could never crack. As personal computers got more powerful, it became possible to crack DES encryption in hours using ordinary computers. That essentially made DES useless so that’s why the government created a new encryption standard called AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). AES will likely foil most people and even governments until sometime in the future when computers get even more powerful. Then AES will be as useless as DES is today.
Second, it’s not possible to crack encryption just for bad guys. If you can easily crack encrypted data used by terrorists, you can also easily crack encrypted data used by so-caleld good guys like governments and banks. There’s a reason terrorists and governments don’t use DES to encrypt their data ny more because almost anyone can crack it. Encryption either works for everyone or for no one. There’s no possible way to use encryption just for good guys.
Terrorists can use telephones and pencils to communicate, so it makes as much sense to ban telephones and pencils in case terrorists might try to use them. There’s always two ways at least to look at any problem. One view is to think of how to keep terrorists from using encryption. The other view is to think how to keep everyone’s data safe from prying eyes. It’s not possible to have one without the other.
If we keep data safe, then terrorists can hide data. If we make it impossible for terrorists to hide data, then nobody else will be able to hide data either. The delusion that we can encrypt the good guys’ data while banning encryption for terrorists is ludicrous and impossible.
Encryption is a mathematical problem. Terrorism is a social problem. You can never solve social problems with technology just as you can never solve technology problems with social solutions.
You can see the values of people by how they view problems. The European Union values privacy for its citizens so that’s why they’re proposing a ban on encryption backdoors. Far too many people on the other side value violating the rights of others just as long as they’re not affected by their own rules. Unfortunately, their own rules can be turned against them at a later data. If you ban encryption for terrorists, you also make it easy for criminals and terrorists to spy on everyone else’s data and you still need solve the problem of terrorism.
Encryption is neutral. It doesn’t care what data it’s hiding from others. That’s why Apple resisted the FBI’s early attempt to crack encryption on the iPhone. If Apple could easily crack the encryption on the iPhone to help the police, then Apple (or someone else using the same techniques) could easily crack encryption for anyone using an iPhone. Encryption either protects everyone or nobody. There’s no in between.