There has been a lot of talk recently about whether Government entities be allowed direct, back door access to encrypted messaging systems such as Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s acquired WhatsApp.
In the US, the FBI asked the U.S. Congress to make encryption back doors in mobile devices mandatory to help combat crime. Apple, Google and other major tech companies are currently urging Barack Obama to reject the proposals for back doors for smart phones.
This conversation has mostly taken place in America where government bodies have argued that without back door access to these systems, how can they have a clear avenue for investigating terrorism claims? There are two main arguments against allowing this. First is users rights’ to have private information. The second is a technical one, with any back door access, you are making a once secure system less-secure, and introducing a new front through which the system can be breached.
European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip states there are no plans to require backdoors in communications encryption in Europe, “We don’t want to destroy people’s trust by creating some back doors,”
It is reassuring that back doors to secure, encrypted services that users trust is not on the cards for Europe, but if America does get its way then these services and our own mobiles could in fact have back doors – whether or not Europe chooses. With such security flaws in place, how long would it take a resourceful hacker to use it for their own needs? Hopefully in a post back door world, countries which do not enforce such a policy will have their own data unreachable from those who do. If not we could see a new market for European-only encrypted services which promise no back doors for anyone.