Policymakers Sharpen Their Sights On Encryption
Former Assistant FBI Director Steve Pomerantz agreed with a Fox News show host’s determination that terrorism and technology had outpaced legislation.
“Yes, particularly to clear up what the FBI director talks about, that we have the authority to do something, in this case, to listen to certain telephone calls, and to monitor certain emails,” he said. “But because of encryption, of what technology has done, we can’t do it. This administration has refused to push legislation that would fix that.” The host then suggests going after companies like Twitter and Facebook.
Policymakers and innovators have had disagreements on how to treat encryption. For instance, Apple’s recently announced full-disk encryption plan has been denounced by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr..
According to Vance, the company introduced the plan “so that it could no longer comply with the judicial search warrants that make this work possible.” He said, in doing so, Apple had made history.
“iPhones are now the first consumer products in American history that are beyond the reach of lawful warrants,” Vance said in a statement. “The result is crimes go unsolved and victims are left beyond the protection of law.”
Encryption is becoming part of the popular vernacular, already widely available for messaging systems, including Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp. Vance put Apple CEO Tim Cook on notice.
“Because Apple is unwilling to help solve this problem, the time for a national, legislative solution is now,” Vance said.
In the Washington Post article by Vance entitled, “5 ways tech companies distort the encryption debate,” he wrote:
In a recently published report, my office — in consultation with cryptologists, technologists and law enforcement partners — has proposed a solution that we believe is both technologically and politically feasible: Keep the operating systems of smartphones encrypted, but still answerable to locally issued search warrants.
This can be achieved in two ways: through good-faith collaboration with Apple and Google or through enactment of a federal statute providing that any smartphone made or sold in the United States must be able to be unlocked — not by the government, but by the designer of the phone’s operating system — when the company is served with a valid search warrant.
While there is currently no precedent for banning encryption, similar proposals have been made in the United Kingdom.What’s more likely than banning encryption is criminalizing those individuals who make such tools available to criminals and terrorists.
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