US GOVERNMENT SOURCES are reporting that the country may move to ban end-to-end encryption as part of the Trump White House's 'Hit the mallet with a foot-long walnut' strategy over big tech.
A report in Politico suggests a meeting took place last Wednesday in which unnamed senior government officials attended to discuss whether it should, and would demand that Congress ban the practice which stops it from snooping on internet traffic.
A source believed to have been in attendance said, "The two paths were to either put out a statement or a general position on encryption, and [say] that they would continue to work on a solution, or to ask Congress for legislation," adding that the importance of the matter was reflected by the attendance of a group of Number 2s (from different stakeholder agencies, it's not a scatological reference).
The problem for end users doesn't end with the NSA getting a better foothold on your WhatsApp chats because whilst it'll be easier for law enforcement and security agencies to see if you're up to no good, relaxing encryption also opens up a much wider foothold for hackers and cybercriminals to abuse the services too. And that's not to mention that if friendly intelligence can access your data, then foreign spies and snoopers can as well - it's all or nothing.
The DoJ and FBI both argue that a few hacks justify the criminal catching advantages. The Department for Homeland Security is more complicated - the cyber side is extremely keen to keep things secure. ICE and the secret service are more concerned about being able to do their job.
It's too early to say what the final result from the meeting was. We probably won't find out until some draft legislation is announced. The important thing we can glean already, however, is that by having this meeting and having such senior people attend it, the issue is very much back on the radar of US lawmakers.
Whether it'll be resolved for right or wrong this time is another matter entirely, but if there's an end to end-to-end in the US, there'll be pressure for other countries, including fellow ditherers in the UK to look at the issue again. μ
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