The “backdoor” debate has been a thing almost as long as data encryption has been available to the public. The most recent iteration of the discussion, with the delicate balance between stopping terrorism and respecting privacy as a backdrop, has been a dig-in-your-heels kind of fight on both sides, with consumers more concerned than ever about privacy and governments more concerned than ever about the possibility that any transmission or device could have links to terrorism. Recent actions by ISIS and the tragedy in Paris have everybody a bit on edge. This is especially true with reports that WhatsApp and Telegram were used in the attacks, but most tech giants are still refusing to budge on the issue, arguing that all the proposed solutions thus far would end with users’ data practically free for the taking by any element with access to the right decryption protocols.
Thus far, proposed solutions by world governments basically amount to giving the government a backdoor into any and all devices by way of a specific decryption key or worse, a deliberate vulnerability that would be kept as private as possible. Both of these solutions allow for leaks and clever hackers to compromise users’ data, despite whatever other precautions may be cited in some plans. Even more alarmingly, some lawmakers and governments support, or at least acknowledge as an option, banning encryption entirely. BlackBerry proposes that tech companies not give in to these demands, but rather simply allow lawful access requests to be granted during investigations. Recall that BlackBerry themselves actually pulled out of an entire national market to avoid having to compromise the data of law-abiding customers.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen is calling for government elements and tech companies to work together to come up with new solutions or at least get their hands from around each others’ necks, saying “…it’s time both sides of this encryption debate accept that pointing fingers is counterproductive.” Although new solutions may require new development and thus time, peaceful cooperation can do the job for the time being, according to Chen. Recent hacking epidemics and terrorism sprees are at odds with each other in the security debate, but until both sides of the debate come together, we are unlikely to see more practical solutions arise for now.