Why U.S. Justice Department’s call on responsible encryption is not an option

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.

Additionally, governments and public authorities use encryption software for the same reason as common citizens do: to make sure their secrets are safe and secure.

So, although there is an ethical matter regarding the fight against terrorism, how many question the ethics of the other side: why should the government have access to a private company’s data and their software information (often sensitive and classified information) just because they have the power to do so?

Software “backdoors” are not an option

Scaring people and making them truly believe that surveillance tools are in their best interest is a great tactic, but definitely not a solution. Terrorists don’t just keep up to date with technology, they follow the world news. Once they find out a certain app might be under government surveillance, they will simply use other platforms. And even if all the apps and online platforms in the world would be under strict monitoring, they would find or maybe invent their own tools to communicate.

Even if tech companies might support Rosenstein’s idea in theory, they certainly won’t approve to change their privacy policies, not to mention allowing government officials to uncover even a small part of their encryption tools and methods. Let’s hope no one will, because one would be enough to set a new norm. If cyber security companies would agree to make an exception, this would only bring them disadvantages.

First, they would lose their credibility and customers would think twice before using their services. Second, as many security experts have stated: building “backdoors” into a software weakens everyone’s security, leaving them more vulnerable to hackers and other threats.

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Why you need online privacy

As mentioned in an earlier post, CyberGhost does not encourage terrorists or any kind or unlawful deeds. CyberGhost VPN just happens to promote free internet access for everyone and the right to have your own privacy when you surf online.

Why would you need it? First, it’s a constitutional right; just like you don’t want any stranger to see what you do in the privacy of your own home, you wouldn’t enjoy if you knew someone knows when you access your e-mail, who you usually talk to online, etc. Second, cyber-attacks have started to occur more frequently, so normally, you need an instrument to protect yourself.

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About the author

Dana Vioreanu
Dana Vioreanu

Even though her degree is in Sociology, which technically has nothing to do with writing, all her previous jobs implied working for websites, taking care of content and writing articles.
By the way, if you’re interested in studying abroad, feel free to ask her a few pointers, because for about two years and a half, she learned almost everything there is to know about international studies.

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