After all the debates sparked by terror controversies, in the end it seems that encryption might not put us in danger. Ever since governments have insisted that encryption can hide murderous plans of terrorists, companies using such software encryption in their products have tried to prove the opposite. And now, a new study from Harvard can explain their point.
It seems that even with encrypted software, law enforcers still have access to countless information about the user of the device they are investigating. The report of the study states that intelligence agencies and law enforcement might soon attempt to oblige companies like Google, Nest, Samsung or Mattel to introduce an update or simply make a change in order to give them access to intercept the means of communication of a certain target.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society from Harvard University, led by Matthew G. Olsen, who is the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center former director, Bruce Schneier, security expert and Jonathan Zittrain from the Harvard Law School. The three of them are also involved in the Berklett Cybersecurity Project from Berkman Center.
Both the U.S. and the U.K. have registered pressures from their governments to get rid of encryption, because of the rising fear that terrorists or other malicious people might “go dark” and thus be able to plan and communicate their future acts of terror. This refers particularly to end-to-end encryption which is very hard to decrypt.
The new study explains that the government’s warnings are not as serious as they want us to believe them, because the landscape of data is truly complex. It seems that giving up on encryption will not cut off all means of virtual communication and planning between terrorists, but it is sure to give authorities more liberty at surveilling us. There is no way to completely get rid of shady places, as we have seen with the terrorist attacks in Paris last year. The attacks were discussed using the in-game chatbox of PlayStation 4 consoles.
Last but not least, the study proves that contrary to the declarations of officials, there is a current flood of data that is unencrypted. Encryption might not put us in danger, or at least not in more peril than we already are. However, the battle between the moguls of the tech industry and the ones of intelligence services will continue for quite some time.
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