It’s 2010. Nothing’s secret anymore.

Remember when companies was afraid of “bugs” in their offices? When wiretapping was an accepted paranoia? (Uhh… depending on your line of work.)

Wasn’t it nice how the Web rolled around and gave us real, personal privacy? Encryption, spoofing, false trails, redirects– all these wonderful technologies…


… which we then totally abandoned in favor of telling the entire internet exactly where we are and what we’re thinking about.

The US Government plans to submit a bill next year that would force all software companies to provide “back-doors” into their encryption. Essentially, the government appears to be concerned that — of course — terrorists might use such encrypted technologies, too. It proposes instead that the government maintain the 1970s-era ability to immediately revoke privacy 100% at any time. Except, you know, this is the Web, and everyone is on the same page with security.

Web wiretapping means the loss of privacy

We need it to build trust, to keep credit card information private, and to maintain secure access to our information. It is an accepted part of doing business today that companies can keep their information secure. If the companies that provide that security software build in “workarounds”, who is to say that smart hackers and security advisees won’t immediately break through them and potentially leak corporate (or personal) data? Is it really expected that every small software business has a security expert on-site who will build a bulletproof backdoor?

In essence, the planned bill introduces the idea that security should be designed to be circumvented, in order that the government can step in and ask for any information it wants. Valerie E. Caproni from the FBI claims,

We’re talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security.

I really think excusing things “in the interests of national security” has gone way, way too far.

I have a question about this: do these rules only apply to software companies based in the US? (If so, I expect a massive, previously-unimaginable exodus of software businesses.)

What do you think about this proposed legislation? Do you think it will combat terrorism? Do you see it as a necessary precaution, or a dangerous precedent?

(image by Marko Milosevic. Licensed under creative commons)

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  1. Is this something that comes with the Net Neutrality bill or is this something totally different? I personally don’t trust the government regulating the internet, or enforcing security “back doors,” or making us need blogging licenses, or whatever.

    Thanks for the information!

    • DM Cook /

      Hi Steven, and thanks for reading! This is entirely separate from the Net Neutrality bill. From what I gather, it’s legislation that’s not been put into any particular bill just yet (it’s due for an appearance sometime next year). What makes it different is that it forces every security- or communications- related company to hire a “security expert” who can implement a back door into their encryption system. This means that EVERY piece of security will have a known, created “exploit”. The idea that hackers won’t outsmart the lone security team at, say, a 12-person company is foolish at the least, and downright dangerous in most circumstances. Scary stuff, in my belief. Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

      • Try looking at some other suobissimns to CRYPTO if you want to know what they are looking for. I think they want pdfs with authors and titles clearly visible at the top of the paper. If in doubt, ask CRYPTO about the finer points of how they like their suobissimns.


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