The Justice Department and FBI have been pushing for technology “back doors” to be built into products and software, citing the national security need to circumvent data encryption. It’s a troubling move, given that it would make information more accessible to hackers as well as law enforcement.
That’s why we were pleased that White House officials were pretty much in agreement that mandating such back doors and weakening encryption should be scrapped, or at least deferred, according to a draft memo obtained by The Washington Post.
As the Committee to Protect Journalists has noted, encryption protects journalists (including conversations with sources) and critical network systems from hackers. No one challenges the need for the government to protect citizens and investigate criminal conduct, particularly terrorism. But mandating that networks and information be made generally less secure hardly squares with the Administration’s moves to reduce opportunities for mass surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks.