Will access to personal, encrypted messages help fight ISIS?
Encryption is used in a variety of ways these days. But in the wake of the horrific ISIS attacks in Paris, some U.S. lawmakers are re-igniting the debate over encryption, suggesting tech companies should be forced to give law enforcement agencies a so-called “back door” to all encrypted communications, so they can better fight terrorism.
Some companies use encryption for secure communications. Many Garden State residents use encryption and don’t even realize it when they’re shopping online, to keep their financial information secure. In addition, many teens are downloading encryption apps on their smart phones so their parents can’t figure out what they’re texting to their friends.
Cyber security and counter surveillance expert Gary Miliefsky, the CEO of SnoopWall, doesn’t believe it makes a lot of sense to allow law enforcement the ability to read and monitor encrypted messages. He said terrorists can communicate in a multitude of different ways, including through video games.
“If you start monitoring every phone call you’re still not monitoring video game chat rooms where people play games,” he said. “Like, if you had an X-Box and you wanted to play 'Halo' and I wanted to play 'Halo' we could get a little headset and we could talk to each other. People will always find a way to privately communicate, chasing that down is reactive and it takes way freedoms of citizens.”
He also points said "the NSA can pretty much crack any form of encryption. They have quantum computing, they can eavesdrop on or have back doors planted in any form of technology to not worry about encryption. It’s chasing needles in haystacks - you have to do root cause analysis, you have to go after the bad guys and not worry about their encryption streams.”
Miliefsky suggests parents not worry if their children are using encryption apps on their phones.
“It’s like if your son or daughter has a diary,” he said. “You don’t go read their diary, it’s better to be open and honest and trustworthy and have better communications with our children, than to try to block them from having private conversations with their friends.”
Miliefsky says the bottom line here is very simple: “Ben Franklin said it best, that 'a society willing to give up its liberty and its privacy for security, shall have neither.'”