Newly Developed Encryption Technology Too Effective It Irks the Government?
Government espionage may have already become an SOP but thanks to people and institutions that value privacy and security, a new encryption technology has been developed. Apparently, this advancement in encryption is so effective that it is said to be hitting a nerve with the (US) Department of Justice.
The New Encryption Technology
This new encryption technology is the latest technology being used by Google and Apple to ensure the privacy and security of their customers or users. For Apple, it is already being used on the company’s newest devices and will be available to older ones through firmware updates. For Google, it will come with the Lollipop version (Android 5) of the Android operating system but is likely already being used in Google’s various online services.
The new encryption technology the government now disdains does not appear on multiple servers. Instead, it is generated and kept on the device that even manufacturers can’t get a key to enable decryption. Obviously, the way this new encryption technology works cannot be explained or dissected here. We can only guess that it is indeed very effective that it irks the government, and the government is even publicly admitting it. Wall Street Journal reported that the new encryption will make it more difficult for authorities to obtain useful data or media content from devices even with a court order. What’s certain, however, is that government authorities want the robustness of the new encryption tech relaxed.
Why the Government Claims that Encryption Is Not Good
Specifically – the government claims that iPhone encryption will eventually kill a child. The government claims that the spying and mass data collection tools being employed by the NSA are for the benefit of citizens. That’s why the government is ridiculously offering tragic scenarios that are said to be the consequences of the government’s lack of access to crucial data belonging to a criminal.
Yes, it’s a vague and farfetched justification of the government’s supposed need to track its citizens’ mobile devices for their (citizens’) own good. As Deputy Attorney General James Cole predicted, “at some future date, a child will die, and police will say they would have been able to rescue the child, or capture the killer, if only they could have looked inside a certain phone.” Additionally, Cole said that a law will someday require tech companies to enable legal access to communications after the “death of a child or a similar event.” The FBI and other government agencies involved in law enforcement and security are seeking unhindered or minimally restricted access to various information including call logs, location, and other smartphone data that are said to be useful in preventing or solving crimes or cases of terrorism.
More Companies Going for More Solid Encryption
Whether the government likes it or not, more companies are now considering privacy and security as foremost concerns. There’s a growing desire among Internet companies and device manufacturers to ensure the protection of data stored and shared in various forms. Just recently, WhatsApp decided to provide end-to-end encryption for messages exchanged over the app or messaging service. The default security setting for WhatsApp is now tighter and is being dubbed as the largest implementation of end-to-end encryption ever. Open WhisperSystems, WhatsApp’s security partner, confirmed this in a blog post.
Hopefully, end-to-end encryption becomes the standard for all messaging or communication platforms. Open WhisperSystems, in the same blog post about its partnership with WhatsApp, mentioned that it will take some time to enable end-to-end encryption to all communication platforms but it appears Android will be the pioneering platform for it.
Companies Standing Up Against the Government
It’s a welcome development seeing how companies are now standing up against government snooping. Apple and Google may have been accused of cooperating with government authorities to enable espionage before, but they seem to be sincere in wanting to rectify their misdeeds. Apple described government comments on the company’s new encryption as “inflammatory” and told DOJ reps that snooping is not the only way to obtain information.
Responding to government pleas on relaxing encryption features, Apple said that it is not possible to create a secure key that only “the good guys can use.” Tim Cook also made his own prediction that a future unknown event will prove that Apple is right in pushing through with tighter encryption on its devices.