How Much Influence Should Politicians Have Over Cryptography?

By John Conley

This is a topic I’ve thought about at times when I read or see news headlines where certain political leaders call for tighter regulations on how data is encrypted on our smartphones and computers due to an existential terrorist threat. The claims made during press conferences and interviews often make me cringe as I, being in the IT industry and having worked with various security technologies over the years, know that there is a big gap between what the public knows about computer security and what government agencies such as the NSA and FBI truly are capable of. It seems that some politicians take advantage of this knowledge gap and are thus able to scare the public into signing off on computer security legislation that actually erodes personal privacy rather than fight terrorism. The following article raises even more interesting points which should be read (I’m only including a brief excerpt, so click the link to read the full article):


Firstly, a quick apology from Australia: we’re sorry. Look, our Prime Minister and Attorney General didn’t try to launch us onto the World Encryption Comedy Stage but unfortunately, here we are.

This all stems from our government (like so many others), deciding that nasty people hide nasty discussions via encrypted chat and that it would be enormously useful for law enforcement to be able to see those discussions. No arguments there from a “protect the people” perspective, the problem, as always, is how you do that without simultaneously jeopardising the people.


Read the rest here