Breaking Encryption Will Not Keep Us Safe

Mike Rogers wrote an opinion piece that was published on CNN today arguing that the encrypted networks should have a master key that would make warranted searches into private networks easier for the government. I wrote the following email to him in response, but I thought his staff shouldn’t be the only ones to read it.

Dear Mr. Rogers,

I read your article about encryption on CNN today and I can’t believe that you are unable to see the remarkable holes in your argument for having a master key in communication networks. I’ve been a professional web developer for seven years and can’t stress enough how important tight security is.

First, encryption without a master key is the first line of defense for average citizens to keep their data safe. If there was a backdoor designed in our communications systems, hackers would find it and exploit it. With that key they would be privy to all the information for all the users on the given network. One big hack would break the entire system. Without a master key, in a well designed system, they have to break each account individually and that helps keep us safe.

Second, it’s not hard to create a private encrypted network. If terrorists know that all the major companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc, have a key that can uncover all their info, they will simply move to a new service that has not been compromised, or even create their own. The problem is average, law-abiding citizens won’t go out of their way to make sure that their communications are kept private, like terrorists surely will, even though it’s in their best interests.

Third, taking away the rights of the many to punish the few hasn’t worked out well for America in recent years. At every turn, we’ve seen the systems abused over and over again. From mass surveillance by the NSA, to more general abuses of the Patriot Act, where law enforcement agencies have used it as an excuse to skip the warrant process, we’ve seen the laws that were meant to protect Americans turned on their head and hurt the innocent. Even worse, those abuses have been shown to be ineffective in stopping terrorism.

It’s time to stop punishing the law-abiding citizens of the United States, and take a more targeted approach against terrorism. Breaking encryption for the masses won’t stop a single determined terrorist, but it will infringe on the privacy and security of every American.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
David G. Mead
Mountlake Terrace, Washington, USA

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