Encryption and Government Access

May 25, 2016

 

The previous months have had a lot of talk about when the government gets to step in and rule over any company’s right to protect their customers’ data and personal information. The problem is that we’re being asked to decide on an issue that is being presented so black and white, which explains why the administration was even divided on the issue. Since cyber fraud is ever changing and the top criminals are always thinking up their next ploy, it would mean that any bill would have to be pretty broad in order to cover the full spectrum of possibilities - the only way to make it effective. 

 

What’s going on here is that, yes, Americans voluntarily choose to use cell phones and laptops and tablets that contact their personal information and will rack up more and more data over time. However they enter this agreement with the idea that the company they are purchasing services from will keep to a certain standard of confidentiality. Currently, that means if the government wants access to a device and they need this information from the provider itself, they do not have to hand it over. In fact, if they do, it sets a precedent for future cases and will make customers question their own privacy. 

 

On the other hand, if the government is inhibited because of this roadblock, then truly important matters such as national security are put on hold. Both sides are making an attempt to look at the best decision for the majority. The service providers want to protect all of their users as a whole, while the government wants to protect national security as a whole - both understandable requests. 

The problem with passing such a bill is that - because it is so broad - we have no way of knowing exactly how much information and from how many people and devices, could ever be disclosed since this applies to security threats that have not occurred yet. Additionally, allowing the government to gain access opens the floodgates for hackers and criminals to gain access - which defeats the purpose of the bill altogether. 

 

At this point these companies are continuing to encrypt their data when possible, not only to prevent anyone from accessing it, but to protect their customers from having to worry about their data being breached.

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