Encryption cannot realistically be prohibited. Encryption is used to protect communication through electronic devices; protects your bank information and accounts online. This is cryptography, it is used in hundreds of systems. We have politicians talking about banning these technologies. How can this be? British Prime Minister David Cameron has raised a red flag on encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Snapchat. He has called for a ban on these apps; which implies that they are being used by criminal and terrorist organizations to communicate.
“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people who cannot read?” Said the Prime Minister rhetorically.
With this type of logic I am going to say; we should leave our houses and cars unlocked; and valuables left unattended in public spaces because it would surely be much easier to catch thieves and put them in jail.
Safety isn’t just for what the social norm calls the “good guys.” It is a two-way street. I would rather have the peace of mind that my data is so well protected; to the point where government officials cannot take advantage of it. Think of the various ways this could go wrong. Imagine corrupt politicians with access to data, or just consider that easing security measures will make it easier for the average hacker to gain access.
Computer scientists have ruled on the futility of weakening encryption; so only government officials have access. This opinion is held by many computer experts actively in the field.
A few months ago the WhatsApp ban was imposed in the UK; It has recently been abandoned due to massive criticism. But this can of worms has yet to be closed. This has just brought the problem to other parts of the world; where theoretically they can gain some traction and spread. India prohibits certain types of encryption. WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption; which is illegal in India. WhatsApp uses 256-bit encryption that only the sender and receiver know. India only allows 40-bit encryption if you want to have a permit that you have to apply for through the government. The Government of India has requested the keys to gain access; but the creators of WhatsApp have said they don’t have them. Therefore, all users using the latest version of WhatsApp in India are technically breaking the law. No actions have been decided on what to do with the company; They are not based in India, which complicates matters. Recently, it was reported that Brazilian authorities were collecting WhatsApp data in hopes of combating drug tracing. WhatsApp has been cooperating with law enforcement agencies; but they have gone on to say that they cannot provide the full extent of what they want. We are only discovering what is on the surface; do a little research on what your local government and even internet service providers are doing; and what data are they doing with this data.