U.S. government authorities do not like encryption. You have it on your Mac, iPhone, iPad and many other devices. Encryption is used to make online purchases. The technology is a fact of 21st century life and is not going away. Governments and corporations and individuals are dependent upon encryption to maintain law and order, and to enhance privacy and security.
Here’s a definition in techno-speak:
Encryption is the process of encoding a message or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it and those who are not authorized cannot. Encryption does not itself prevent interference, but denies the intelligible content to a would-be interceptor. In an encryption scheme, the intended information or message, referred to as plaintext, is encrypted using an encryption algorithm – a cipher – generating ciphertext that can be read only if decrypted. For technical reasons, an encryption scheme usually uses a pseudo-random encryption key generated by an algorithm.
Your iPhone can be encrypted so that it can be opened only with a password. That’s good, right? Unless the government thinks you may be hiding something on your phone, then encryption becomes bad.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is a lawyer and understands the encryption issue. He voted against F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray’s nomination for an important reason.
[Wray]failed to oppose government backdoors into Americans’ personal devices, or to acknowledge the facts about encryption.
The genie is out of the bottle. The toothpaste is out of the tube. If the U.S. government passed a law which required a so-called backdoor access method to encrypted devices, then hackers, criminals, and others who want to hide information would roll their own encryption which would prevent any authority from accessing their devices.
In essence, criminals would have privacy and security and Americans would not.
F.B.I. Director Wray:
We face an enormous and increasing number of cases that rely on electronic evidence. We also face a situation where we’re increasingly unable to access that evidence, despite lawful authority to do so.
Wray’s solution? A backdoor.
A few years ago about a dozen of planet earth’s most distinguished and respected cryptographers said this about the encryption problem and proposed solutions:
There is no viable technical solution that would allow the American and British governments to gain ‘exceptional access’ to encrypted communications without putting the world’s most confidential data and critical infrastructure in danger.
Where does Apple fit into this?
I don’t know.
Apple makes encryption automatic to easy on every device. The world is flooded with encrypted smartphones, tablets, PCs, and storage devices. That toothpaste is not going back into the tube. Apple fights in public, but what we don’t know is how much Apple fights behind the scenes. For example, how secure is our data stored on iCloud (unless we encrypt files first)? In China, Apple moved iCloud servers to a Chinese-owned cloud service provider. No worries, there, right?
Apple may be the most privacy and security conscious of the large technology companies but we don’t know how far that consciousness extends because money– China is the world’s largest market– talks.