Encryption technologies today are extremely secure, so secure that not even tech companies themselves can crack it. According to law enforcement institutions across jurisdictions, this presents a problem as it makes it difficult to retrieve information from that could be key in exposing criminal plots and bringing perpetrators to justice. Law enforcement agencies therefore increasingly press for laws that oblige tech companies to build so-called ‘encryption backdoors’ into their products.
An encryption backdoor however, in essence is nothing more than an inbuilt vulnerability that allows the government to hack into a device. Despite of law enforcement’s argument that such encryption backdoors were accessible to authorized authorities only, it is highly likely that professional hacking groups will, sooner or later, be able to access them too. Tech companies as well as IT specialists are unequivocal in their alarm: in an age where data are a gold mine and hacking has become a tool of asymmetrical warfare, how can deliberately weakening encryption be a proportionate measure to fight crime?
Despite of this, more and more governments are paving the way for legally mandated encryption backdoors despite of the warnings of experts such as the cryptographer Matthew Green, who is shocked about “the almost proud absence of technological expertise on the pro-government access side”. Perhaps, in this case, we should lend an ear to the professionals rather than the politicians.