Friday, 22 January 2016 09:01

Security and Privacy are the same argument.

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In the fast paced and insanely stupid argument between privacy advocates and national security advocates we often hear how we need to give up one or the other. The security guys say that privacy will block criminal activity so we need to give up some of that. On the other side the Privacy gang feels that giving up privacy is only hurting the people that are not doing anything wrong. They also feel it has an impact on free speech and limits discourse. What neither side is getting is that they both are right. Strong privacy protections and encryption allow for better and more secure communication. The complement each other in a way that no one seems to get.

Still there are groups that are being pressured into asking to do away with encrypted communication, devices or at the very least to weaken the methods used to encrypt data and traffic by putting in global backdoors that law enforcement can use. The fact that doing this has already weakened the encryption we have seems to slide by these guys. They seem to view encryption and privacy as a veil that bad guys hide behind just like in the movies… and there-in is the rub. Another group that wants to weaken or get rid of encryption is the copyright industry. The MPAA and RIAA have spoken out about being able to break encryption to catch pirates and to monitor internet traffic for movie downloads. Many of the people looking to introduce legislation to require backdoors, mandatory packet sniffing, and to outlaw point-to-point encryption are very friendly with these same groups.

Meanwhile most of the people in the intelligence community seem to think that banning point-to-point encryption or requiring backdoors is a massively bad idea. They know that there are alternative means to gather that information while not weakening the entire communications infrastructure. The FBI, NSA and other agencies employ teams of people that can get around most of the hurdles of encryption including guys that write malware for just those tasks. Not to mention the number of tools available for purchase that can get forensic data from devices encrypted or not.

Make no mistake, if the current push to remove/weaken encryption is allowed to stand we are going to see breaches and theft on an unprecedented scale.These will come to every aspect of online communication. Simply put, there is no valid argument for removing strong encryption in the name of national security that does not put all communication and data at risk.

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