Encryption: Officials seek ‘backdoor’ entry points; critics decry government overreach

Encryption: Officials seek ‘backdoor’ entry points; critics decry government overreach:

In other words, University of Toronto’s Chris Parsons wrote on Twitter, “you either support backdoors, or you support the murderers and child abuser.”

“I think that each company will have to evaluate the corporate risks associated with implementing any backdoors,” Mr. Parsons, a postdoctoral fellow who studies privacy and security at Citizen Lab, a division of the university’s Munk School of Global Affairs, told The Washington Times this week.

“While satisfying U.S. and U.K. government authorities might (temporarily) relieve pressure, the companies would suffer tremendous international criticism and suspicion were they to undermine the security of their products,” he continued, adding that a likely plummet in profits, if nothing else, “will buttress corporate principles and force companies (on their shareholders’ behalfs) to maintain their current security stances.”

Neither Google nor Apple has publicly responded yet to this week’s op-ed, but Mr. Parsons in Toronto says that it’s so far been promising to hear that law enforcement can’t crack a type of encryption that now comes standard.

“To a certain degree, it is reassuring that consumer-level encryption is sufficiently robust that even state authorities find it challenging to break. People and businesses entrust highly sensitive information and capabilities to their devices, and so this affirmation confirms that criminals who steal devices will have similar difficulties in using these against their owners,” he told The Times.

But it’s also reassuring, he added, “because the adoption of these strong standards is a result of companies acknowledging that law enforcement and other state agencies are overreaching in their access to customer data,” including federal and local security and law enforcement groups.

“Legal protections have simply not kept up with the people’s privacy expectations, and the adoption of these strong standards is an encouraging sign that companies are responding accordingly,” he said. “The reality is that, while this may close off one avenue of investigation to state agencies, these agencies now have access to more information with fewer legal restrictions than at any time in recent history.”


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