With the recent San Bernardino, California attacks, politicians wish to weaken encryption on people’s devices. It was reported after the attacks that the two shooters used devices with a form of encryption. In this case, weakening encryption sounds like a good idea but representatives from top tech companies beg to differ. Facebook and Google warned congress that if they try to weaken encryption on consumer devices, their most sensitive data may become exposed. Even in a statement issued by the Application Developers Alliance (ADA) said that any attempt in weakening encryption for government use can leave users vulnerable to hackers and other “bad actors.”
In addition, the Application Developers Alliance said that having end-to-end encryption is good for the American people. They even went so far as to say that encryption should be supported by law. The way the ADA made it sound is that there is more evil in the world than good so end-to-end encryption must be needed to keep people safe. Congress can easily turn the tables and say that is the reason why they need weakened encryption so they can catch those bad people. The main issue here is the personal information that these huge tech companies want to keep concealed. It also seems like companies like Facebook and Google are using their users to protect their privately held information.
Congress’ push for weakened encryption comes in response to the attacks that left 14 dead and 21 wounded. In a testimony this past Wednesday, FBI Director James B. Comey told the Senate Judiciary committee that his investigators were unable to access 109 text messages exchanged by attackers in Garland, Texas last May. The attackers were in contact with a known terrorist but investigators were unable to read the messages due to end-to-end encryption. Now pulling everything together, it may seem that having weaker encryption would be a good thing because terrorists have gotten smarter by finding sneakier means of communication. With weaker encryption, the FBI can readily track down suspects and put them to justice. The only problem with that is that users are put at risk due to a less secure system. Silicon Valley tech companies and Congress will need to work out some sort of plan to keep their sensitive data locked away while the FBI can crack into future attackers’ devices.