Encryption: Change May Be Imposed

October 8, 2019

In our DarkCyber videos we reported about Australia’s efforts to obtain access to encrypted communications. We noted that other Five Eyes partners would pick up the idea and move it forward. “The Open Letter from the Governments of US, UK, and Australia to Facebook is An All-Out Attack on Encryption” from the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains that several countries have demanded access to secure messages. The EFF states:

This is a staggering attempt to undermine the security and privacy of communications tools used by billions of people. Facebook should not comply. The letter comes in concert with the signing of a new agreement between the US and UK to provide access to allow law enforcement in one jurisdiction to more easily obtain electronic data stored in the other jurisdiction. But the letter to Facebook goes much further: law enforcement and national security agencies in these three countries are asking for nothing less than access to every conversation that crosses every digital device.

The EFF states:

What’s more, the backdoors into encrypted communications sought by these governments would be available not just to governments with a supposedly functional rule of law. Facebook and others would face immense pressure to also provide them to authoritarian regimes, who might seek to spy on dissidents in the name of combatting terrorism or civil unrest, for example. The Department of Justice and its partners in the UK and Australia claim to support “strong encryption,” but the unfettered access to encrypted data described in this letter is incompatible with how encryption actually works.

DarkCyber wants to point out that flows of digital information work like sandblasters; that is, the data flows erode existing structures. When societal conventions are blasted by bits, the darker side of human nature has a new greenhouse in which to flourish.

DarkCyber believes that a new context exists in the digital environment. We understand what EFF says, but it seems clear that access to encrypted content is just one facet of other changes; for example, cutting off Internet access, censorship, and similar actions.

New world. Old arguments may not gain traction.

Stephen E Arnold, October 8, 2019

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