The State of Crypto Wars.

My take on them.

Posted by sbastidasr on July 16, 2015

“Crypto Wars” is the name of the US government’s attempts to limit the public’s and foreign nations’ access to cryptography strong enough to resist decryption by national intelligence agencies. This basically means making encryption weaker to allow the government to intervene in any encrypted piece of information. Around 2005, crypto wars were won by the public, who was allowed to encrypt as desired.

In 2013, Snowden leaked the program to weaken encryption algorithms, thus reinstating the wars for privacy and openness. Up until now, the only companies that need to provide help decrypting information are service provider companies (Cellular and now internet providers.) All other companies such as Google that sells software or apple that sells products are allowed to encrypt their devices. The iPhone, most notably, was recently encrypted to protect users privacy without even apple being able to open it. This has resulted in the US government to restart discussions for access to information via backdoors, shared keys and, finally, no encryption at all.

In my opinion, encryption is a right. From its most basic form to its most advanced, people should be able to communicate freely. Freedom of expression guarantees humans to be able to speak to each other however they want. I should be able to tell you: “h1 h0w 4r3 y0u” or “2SfDsF5g7Ds23cs”, without someone else knowing what I am telling you. And that is what Apple has stated with their iPhone encryption software. By completely closing their phones, no one is able to open them without knowing the passcode. And, the government officials say, this is enabling criminals to hide and destroy information that should be available to them.

Au contraire to what the US government says, this is merely protecting common users. By making phones encrypted, people can have their privacy back. And, most likely, 99% of the population won’t have anything relevant on their phones. But what about criminals, terrorists and threats? These are the guys that avoid the law and, most certainly, they wouldn’t care about what the governments think about encryption. Encrypting their communications to the max level is the first step. High-profile criminals such as terrorists do not, have not and will not rely on iPhone encryption to communicate with each other, but more secure and professional ways.

What will happen the day a backdoor is introduced in encryption and airlines are checked, and their systems compromised? What will happen the day banks in America send billions abroad because of their security flaws? And what will happen the day hackers are able to read all the communications of every single American citizen? Is the US government even thinking about this? Is allowing the government to check communications worth compromising the lives of millions of Americans, and people worldwide? I think not.

We need crypto to protect us from the bad guys. The ones that will be affected will be the consumers, the families, the people that need the most. Whereas criminals will use other types of cryptography regardless of what the law says. By opening encryption, we are opening people’s houses, cars, businesses, accounts to anyone - be this the NSA or a criminal. The US government is trying to kill their people and their industries. The moment companies like silicon valley tech giants start building backdoors, consumer markets will shift into other countries’ products, with no restrictions.

Encrypting a message is sending information in a way other people can’t read. So, we’ll be now forbidden to speak languages NSA officers don’t know about? Where does this end? And, by the way, cryptography is basically math. The US government is trying to ban math. That is how ridicules the wars are.

A final thought. Weren’t computers developed by Turing, trying to solve an encryption code for the allies? Yes, I thought so.