DOJ wants tech firms to create backdoors on tech devices to help protect consumers
The release from the DOJ mentions its point of view as well as the point of view of the tech firms being asked to lighten up on the encryption. The release states that law enforcement has a responsibility to protect citizens by “investigating and prosecuting crime and safeguarding the vulnerable.” On the other hand, tech firms also have a responsibility and end-to-end encryption can negatively impact public safety in two ways according to the DOJ:
By severely undermining a company’s own ability to identify and respond to violations of their terms of service. This includes responding to the most serious illegal content and activity on its platform, including child sexual exploitation and abuse, violent crime, terrorist propaganda and attack planning; By precluding the ability of law enforcement agencies to access content in limited circumstances where necessary and proportionate to investigate serious crimes and protect national security, where there is lawful authority to do so.
However, tech firms and tech users are concerned that what the DOJ and the four other countries in the “Five Eyes” are doing is using this as an excuse allowing it to break into iPhones and other devices so that the government can find out what its citizens are planning. The problem is that the government never runs out of reasons to ban encryption, all of which sounds good to the layperson, but actually hide the real reason for wanting to stop encryption.
While Apple has been able to hold off the U.S. government thus far by simply refusing to turn over the necessary software, eventually this game plan is no longer going to work; eventually it might end up a mighty struggle all the way through the Supreme Court to determine where the line is drawn on encryption. And as usual, it will be a battle between the government’s right to know in order to protect its citizens vs. the privacy rights of consumers. But the DOJ doesn’t see things as so black and white. The agency wrote that “However, we challenge the assertion that public safety cannot be protected without compromising privacy or cyber security. We strongly believe that approaches protecting each of these important values are possible and strive to work with industry to collaborate on mutually agreeable solutions.”
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