The crypto wars


DP: How is it any less secure for individuals if Apple or Google hold onto a copy of the decrypting key, and when law enforcement serves a warrant, they decrypt the data?
MB: It’s not quite that simple. In order for any smartphone manufacturer to decrypt the data on your phone, it has to hold onto a secret that lets it get that access. And that secret or that database of secrets becomes an extremely valuable and useful target for intelligence agencies.
So just as the local police department might want to decrypt a phone of a criminal suspect, so would the Chinese or the Russian or the Iranian intelligence agencies like to be able to do exactly the same thing.
If it were possible to hold onto this sort of database and really be assured that only good guys get access to it, we might have a different discussion than we’re having. Unfortunately, we don’t know how to build systems that work that way. We don’t know how to do this without creating a big target and a big vulnerability.

An interesting interview, and a pretty good primer on encryption and the whole debate about it as a whole. As a computer science student, I’m necessarily more informed than the Average Joe about this sort of thing, which essentially means I’m always getting annoyed at people for having no idea what they’re talking about.

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