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The concept of a backdoor is pretty simple. When a company develops a piece of security software or hardware, the government puts pressure on the developers to include a way for them to get around the security aspects of the product. The rationale is that bad actors and terrorists are using secure, encrypted hardware and software to plan and implement their attacks. If the law enforcement arms of the government cannot “crack the code” being used, they are limited in their ability to prevent and investigate these attacks.

Unfortunately, governments have proven to be untrustworthy at times and vulnerable to security breaches of their own. Opponents to backdoors make the case that backdoors can lead to violation of privacy and, should the knowledge of how a backdoor works be stolen, less security for citizens in general. The fact that the American National Security Agency (NSA) was breached, and its hacking tools stolen in 2017 illustrates this second point.

Australia and the UK are also on the “responsible encryption” bandwagon. This nice sounding wording is just another way of saying, “backdoor.” The issue really came to a head when the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked Apple to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone for use in their investigation of his terrorist attack.

Representatives in the American Congress have proposed legislation called the Secure Data Act to prevent government agencies from demanding companies include backdoors. You can learn more in this cInet article and if you are so inclined, read the bill here.

Telephone wire taps may be the original “backdoor” and the history of this tool includes successes and abuses. Is there a situation where manufacturers of encryption products should unlock devices for law enforcement? That is likely to be a “lively” debate. Libertarian values dictate that governments not have unrestricted access to citizens’ secure and private communications for the protection of free speech if for no other reason.

So, it comes down to a fine balance between privacy and security for everyday citizens versus government defense against terrorism and other attacks that use encryption. CRIP.TO believes a true democracy cannot function without the freedom to communicate and express views, opinions, ideas, and information without fear of reprisal. Our entire company is founded on that philosophy.

CRIP.TO, dedicated to giving you the freedom to communicate fearlessly.

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