Government and the tech industry must cooperate to encourage encryption and protect society

Given the string of high-profile and costly cyberattacks that have taken place over the last couple of years, you’d think everyone would see urgency in encouraging security measures like encryption. After all, everyone loses when credit scores and bank accounts get hacked.

And yet, the U.S. government has raised legitimate concerns regarding encryption. As Reuters reports:

“U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday sharply criticized technology companies that have built strongly encrypted products, suggesting Silicon Valley is more willing to comply with foreign government demands for data than those made by their home country.

While echoing many arguments made by previous senior U.S. law enforcement officials, Rosenstein struck a harder line than his predecessors who led the Obama Justice Department, dismissing attempts to negotiate with the tech sector as a waste of time and accusing companies of putting sales over stopping crime.

“Company leaders may be willing to meet, but often they respond by criticizing the government and promising stronger encryption,” Rosenstein said during a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland, according to a copy of his remarks. “Of course they do. They are in the business of selling products and making money. … We are in the business of preventing crime and saving lives.”

Rosenstein’s first lengthy comments on encryption signaled a desire for Congress to write legislation mandating that companies provide access to encrypted products when a law enforcement agency obtains a court order.

Tech companies and many cyber security experts say requiring law enforcement access to encrypted products will broadly weaken cyber security for everyone. U.S. officials have countered that default encryption settings hinder their ability to collect evidence needed to pursue criminals.

Previous officials have urged such an approach, but Rosenstein more directly criticized Silicon Valley. He cited a series of media reports to suggest U.S.-based companies are more willing to accede to demands for data from foreign governments than they are from the United States.

The remarks were quickly denounced by supporters of strong encryption.”

At Evizone, we believe in the need to cooperate with law enforcement with appropriate due process. There should not be an open license for government to access any data they desire without safeguards; yet there are many compelling arguments that law enforcement must have access to data in order to keep society safe and functioning. There are just as many compelling arguments that data must be protected by encryption to keep society safe and functioning.

We call upon governments and the tech industry to engage in a broad dialogue to strike the right balance. At Evizone we strike the balance between high security and compliance with regulations every day. Give us a call to find out how we do it!