U.S. Justice Department official Rod Rosenstein held a speech on Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in which he criticized technology companies for helping out criminals and terrorists accomplish their plans through encryption software.
Directly pointing to Silicon Valley companies, he supported the idea of responsible encryption after mentioning several terrorism cases from the past. Tech companies refused to collaborate with the FBI despite the fact that the organization presented proper warrants that would have allowed them to access company databases.
Sure, this would have meant collecting only the data concerning terrorist suspects, but the reaction of companies is by far understandable. Once “inside” the system, law enforcement officers could easily break in and collect other important information as well, not related to terrorist suspects.
Responsible encryption or forced monitoring?
Many people (security specialists or not) fear that Rosenstein’s call for responsible encryption, while presenting strong arguments, is rather just another attempt to create a back door and legally monitor peoples’ lives online.
Saying that encryption methods are bad because they don’t help governments catch terrorists is just like saying that bulletproof vests should be banned simply because some criminals wear them when they are trying to escape the police. Yet, bulletproof vests have been a lifesaver for police officers, detectives and other law enforcement professionals.