Barack Obama and David Cameron’s Stance on Encryption is Morally Irresponsible
President Barack Obama expressed concerns Friday of terrorist plots in the United States, taking a public stance against private citizen communication and encryption. According to the president, encrypted smartphones and messaging apps pose a threat to law enforcement officials trying to track terrorists, and that’s a problem that needs to be solved.
If we find evidence of a terrorist plot… and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we can’t penetrate that, that’s a problem, Obama said.
David Cameron Agrees
The British prime minister David Cameron also agreed with Obama’s sentiment toward anti-encryption recently, promising to pass harsh legislation against it if he is re-elected. On ITV News, Cameron said the following:
I think we cannot allow modern forms of communication to be exempt from the ability, in extremis, with a warrant signed by the home secretary, to be exempt from being listened to. That is my very clear view and if I am prime minister after the next election I will make sure we legislate accordingly.
To spell out what these statements mean, think of a personal chat between yourself and someone else. Maybe it’s a text message or phone call criticizing the local government for their recent bill to outlaw the sale of Oreos. It’s a bit goofy, but a hypothetical topic that most anyone would be outraged about.
Maybe you’ve taken to the streets with picket signs against the over-reaching anti-Oreo law that you don’t agree should be in place. People with glasses of milk raise them high chanting “What do we want? Oreos! When do we want them? Now!”
Suddenly, the police start getting a bit aggressive. They’re sick of people protesting and want to go home to their families. They start trying to disperse the crowd, so you look at your phone to find where everyone is regrouping in an app like FireChat or Telegram. When you get to the confirmed meeting spot to keep protesting, the police are already there, armed to the teeth. They’ve been listening in on communications from multiple people in the crowd. They fire tear gas to disperse the new crowd again, and things boil to a point of violence.
Believe it or not, the Oreo example isn’t much of a stretch. This past December, Chicago police were accused of spying on protesters of the controversial Eric Garner case, also known as the “I can’t breathe” protest. While activists were organizing marches and peaceful protests, the Chicago PD was listening in on their conversations with Stingray technology.
Snowden Thinks Obama and Cameron’s Anti-Encryption is Morally Irresponsible
The United States government is known for spying on citizens of their country, as well as those internationally, and that’s not an over-exaggeration. Ever since Edward Snowden leaked the highly controversial National Security Agency (NSA) documents, more and more information about the government’s reach keeps getting exposed.
The government isn’t the only perpetrator in the fight against private communication either – companies are complying and folding under the pressure. Just a few weeks ago, Hacked published an article about the leaked documents showing Microsoft gave the NSA full control of their Skype database, including all video calls, phone calls and text chats.
As for Snowden? He’d find this type of action by companies and governments morally irresponsible. In a recent speech at the Cato Institute Surveillance Conference, Snowden slammed Amazon for not encrypting user data when they can do so.
This is morally irresponsible, and as a business it’s problematic to allow this to continue when we know for a fact that they have the capability to provide for secure communications because as soon as you go to purchase that book, as soon as money’s involved, they turn it over to encryption.
With Barack Obama and David Cameron now publically fighting encryption altogether, there’s a problem brewing with over-reaching legislation. If the government isn’t allowed to read our mail, why can they read our email? If the government doesn’t have to hear us talk in person, why do they have to read our texts and listen to our phone calls?
In essence, these governments are trying hard to listen to us talk under the guise of “foiling terrorist plots.” But when is the average citizen considered a subject of interest? No one knows, because the NSA has no guidelines, checks or balances. It’s not biased, and it’s not a conspiracy theory. There are facts and examples behind the idea that private communication is not safe, and as Snowden releases more documents over the next few years it looks only to strengthen the case.
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