Susan Landau has an excellent essay on why it’s more important than ever to have backdoor-free encryption on our computer and communications systems. The article has been picked up and echo’ed by other blogs, including Bruce Schneier’s blog, Schneier on Security.
Protecting the privacy of speech is crucial for preserving our democracy. We live at a time when tracking an individual — a journalist, a member of the political opposition, a citizen engaged in peaceful protest — or listening to their communications is far easier than at any time in human history. Political leaders on both sides now have a responsibility to work for securing communications and devices. This means supporting not only the laws protecting free speech and the accompanying communications, but also the technologies to do so: end-to-end encryption and secured devices; it also means soundly rejecting all proposals for front-door exceptional access. Prior to the election there were strong, sound security arguments for rejecting such proposals. The privacy arguments have now, suddenly, become critically important as well. Threatened authoritarianism means that we need technological protections for our private communications every bit as much as we need the legal ones we presently have.
Unfortunately, the trend is moving in the other direction. The UK just passed the Investigatory Powers Act, giving police and intelligence agencies incredibly broad surveillance powers with very little oversight. And Bits of Freedom just reported that “Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Hungary all want an EU law to be created to help their law enforcement authorities access encrypted information and share data with investigators in other countries.”
Susan Landaus also writes:
Both the political opposition and a free press require the ability to communicate in private. Stalin and Putin both knew this—and prevented it. There is a risk that President-elect Trump means what he says. Given the President-elect’s authoritarian statements, I no longer feel confident that the surveillance of journalists, the political opposition, or of protesters will not occur in this country. The President-elect has explicitly said that he wished he had the power to hack into the accounts of his political enemies.
You can read Susan Landau’s essay at https://goo.gl/B1ykCe.