"Backdoor" Argument Revived By Manhattan D.A.

For quite some time, the tech world and the law enforcement world have argued endlessly over whether it would be worth the risks to add a backdoor to all encrypted technologies in the mobile space, which would allow lawful officials to search the devices. This could be in the form of many things, from a special "master key" given to federal officials to more extreme measures like weaker encryption or purposefully inserted exploits. As the debate rages anew in the wake of the Paris attacks, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr has put out a call to put pressure on the tech world to cave on the debate, citing national security first and foremost. With many U.S. states preparing to accept Syrian refugees, the argument against strong encryption rings truer than ever.

The tech community, however, will not relent. The firm universal belief is that any kind of security hole put in for law enforcement would be a potential backdoor for criminals, malicious hackers and even terrorists. Since this newest proposal seeks to provide a backdoor on all handsets sold or manufactured in the United States, it would affect those in the business world, law enforcement and even government sectors, balancing the risk of national security being compromised by international hackers squarely against the equal risk of national security being compromised because federal officials could not crack a device with essential information. This proposal is made all the more scary by the fact that it entails weaker encryption standards rather than any of the other possible backdoors, meaning that hackers with the same tech as law enforcement, or who score illegitimate authentication, would have just as easy of a time gaining access to devices as legitimate officials would. Vance took to a white paper to specifically criticize Apple and Google, claiming their recent works in the mobile security world are responsible for a severe impact on public safety.

Vance stated that following his proposal would not require major investments of time or money, but that seems to be far from the point of the argument. Enhanced security, which many view as a cornerstone of internet advancement and personal identities in a modern setting, is under general attack. A legislative council with the American Civil Liberties Union went as far as to dismiss the proposal as ""just an extension of the same rhetoric that we've heard." Recent efforts to push for similar changes to communications between devices fell flat last month, indicating that the same fate will likely befall this proposal, but with recent concerns over national security it could be anybody's game, in the public eye.

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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]
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