Some Thoughts on Encryption

Some Thoughts on Encryption

The controversy regarding Apple’s resistance to decrypt an iPhone that was utilized by terrorists has created a national conversation about the role of encryption in modern society. This is a tricky topic that has been a long time in the making. Watching the cable news last week has seen political leaders, pundits, talking bobble heads and technical evangelists weighing in on the debate. Now, we have a court issuing its first decision that may influence the outcome of the disagreement between Apple and the FBI.

I deplore what the terrorists did in San Bernardino. There is no justification for their actions or any other person who engages or supports the attacking of civilians. I wish the government to use all legal means to bring any co-conspirators to justice and use their available tools to penetrate these evil networks.

However, I support Apple in their decision not to introduce any vulnerability into their platform. This debate goes beyond one particular incident and must be thought about in the broadest sense. If a backdoor of any kind exists, then it will eventually be leaked. Once this is in the wild, governments across the globe could use it to penetrate into the mobile phones of dissidents and political opposition leaders. This will result in mass incarcerations and executions. The blood of those individuals would also be on Apple’s hands since they developed the entry point.

[pulledquote]Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor safety. –Benjamin Franklin, 11 Nov. 1755[/pulledquote]Additionally, criminal elements will utilize other encryption vehicles for messaging purposes that are either privately developed or on the market today, but with corporate entities located in foreign countries. The government is not going to get what they want even if Apple provides a backdoor entry point for these devices.

I am not a conspiracy theorist but a realist. If Apple develops any form of backdoor into their platform, it will eventually make its way into the public domain. Very few technical secrets remain secrets forever. Once the mechanism by which their backdoor is reverse engineered, leaked, or inadvertently disclosed, more lives will be put in jeopardy.

I was asked by a friend if my family was harmed because my opinion was upheld by the courts, would I have a different view. I would be angry, devastated, and emotionally distraught beyond belief. However, I am not sure that I would change my position. We cannot allow the evil actions of a few to create enough fear that we give up our liberties, privacy, or support those individuals in other countries who are pushing for Democratic change. We do not want to give the enemies of freedom another tool to suppress individual liberties.

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