[Cryptography] "How Long Will Unbreakable Commercial Encryption Last?"

Jerry Leichter leichter at lrw.com
Sat Sep 21 15:55:50 EDT 2019

"Most people who follow the debate over unbreakable, end-to-end encryption think that it’s more or less over....In fact, this complacent view is almost certainly wrong. Enthusiasm for controlling encryption is growing among governments all around the world and by no means only in authoritarian regimes. Even Western democracies are giving their security agencies authorities that nibble away at the inviolability of commercial encryption. Equally importantly, unbreakable user security will increasingly conflict with the commercial and political interests of the big Silicon Valley companies that currently offer encryption as a mass market feature—especially as technology companies take a more aggressive role in content moderation."


The article is by Stewart Baker, who's been involved in this debate for a very long time.  The quote above shows the general theme.  His basic point is that only the US has shown solid resistance to mandated access, and once any of the large no-US economies - and perhaps the entire EU - require Silicon Valley companies to provide access, they will quickly fold since providing different software to different parts of the world will prove too complex.

Worth reading for the perspective.  Of course, what's always left out of these is the question:  Just what will they gain access too?  William Barr apparently repeats a story about Mexican drug cartels using a WhatsApp group to coordinate multiple murders of police officials.  But what would have stopped them from using any number of open source alternatives instead, if they knew WhatsApp wasn't secure against law enforcement?  You'd need much deeper hooks into phones than just restrictions on commercial encryption to make a dent in all the parade of horrible stories that get repeated in its favor.
                                                        -- Jerry

More information about the cryptography mailing list