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Encryption-Breaking Bill: Good Intentions, But Bad Idea?

May 03, 2016

A hot topic in the technology industry is in regards to the recent legal battle of Apple and the FBI in which the FBI wanted Apple to unlock an iPhone that belonged to an offender involved in the San Bernardino shooting this past December. The case was dropped as the FBI ended up unlocking the phone without Apple’s support; however, the conversation hasn’t died down. Do you think the government crossed the line of an unreasonable search in this instance? Federal officials don’t think so as they’re hoping to pass an encryption-breaking bill that would monitor possible “encrypted” discussions to prevent future acts of violence.

The San Bernardino shooting is just one of many examples in which the government could benefit from having the ability to access a criminal’s cell phone data as there’s the potential to prevent future occurrences. That’s exactly the government’s point-of-view: to protect the American people from terrorist attacks; however, there’s more concern as to the other possible consequences of passing this type of bill.

What is the encryption-breaking bill?

According to a press release on News America, the encryption-breaking bill “requires that any provider of electronic communications, storage, or processing service, or any software or hardware manufacturer, be able to decrypt any encrypted data of its users when the government demands that data with a court order.”

While this bill has not yet been passed, it causes great concern for cybersecurity departments. Companies would need to weaken, possibly remove, their encrypted infrastructure to relinquish private information about their customers. This is a major conflict with cybersecurity’s role in an organization, and the actions of this bill could leave an organization vulnerable to a data breach.

Problems at Large

Apple and other cellular manufacturers would be greatly affected should this encryption-breaking bill be approved. Digital Trends explains a couple of scenarios that could take place. For one, it’s possible that the government could tap into a device’s features, such as the camera and microphone, without the user’s knowledge. It’s also possible that the government could make slight changes to the software code and classify it as an action on Apple’s part.

Another scenario is the risk of a company’s encryption key being received by cybercriminals and, thus, allowing them access to private information on any user’s phone, such as emails, pictures, and texts. This would affect many people because personal details can be exposed to others.

In your opinion, could the encryption-breaking bill do more harm than good?

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Posted By: Jaclyn Roman


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