Right to Encryption?

I do believe we, as citizens of the United States, have a right to encryption. At a high level, you could describe encryption as a form of privacy. The ability to prevent other people from reading private messages between yourself and your family, friends, colleagues, etc. definitely falls under the category of privacy. In this day and age, the process which ensures that ability generally requires encryption because so much of our communication is done via networks that are susceptible to unwanted listeners. It is true that we knowingly take that risk each time we send a text message or e-mail, especially if it contains sensitive material. However, should we not be able to minimize our risk by utilizing advance encryption software developed by companies that specialize in this area? I certainly believe every American has the right to purchase a product that further enhances their ability to protect that unalienable right to privacy, and I extend that position to support companies that develop encryption algorithms which help to separate the average consumer from hackers with criminal motivations.

As you can see, I believe encryption is an important topic that should be debated. I value the ability to protect my data because between nearly everyone I communicate with and myself there exists bits of information representing our conversation someone on a server. As a result, I ardently support the use of encryption despite having nothing to hide. Even though I have a clean record and don’t partake in criminal communication, I still have no desire to accept vulnerabilities in the technology that I use which could allow someone to take a peek at my private life. I would say my stance on encryption is predominantly social. I believe the idea of privacy is a social issue and natural aggregation of humans in societies creates dialog and intrigues some members to participate in dialog without permission. I suppose this means I am financially in favor of supporting companies like Apple, Google, and smaller information security providers. On the other hand, I oppose the political stance that decrypting devices should be mandatory for companies on the basis of a judge claiming that national security is at risk, especially after the fact. I do hope, sometime in the near future, companies like Apple and organizations like the FBI can find a way to cooperatively gather evidence in important cases without posing a threat to many Americans’ right to privacy.

In my opinion, the fight between national security and individual privacy will not be settled anytime soon. I find it interesting that the Republican and Democratic stances on this particular issue are somewhat aligned The majority of both parties is demanding that Apple develop the backdoor and provide the evidence the FBI needs because the actions of Syed Farook are classified as terrorism. Particularly, I am surprised that so many Republicans are in favor of extending the government’s reach. The GOP typically opposes anything related to the expansion of government powers, but it seems as though the threat of terrorism exceeds the desire for small government and has aligned many Republicans with policies that hinder certain features of capitalism!

Personally, I will continue to support the viewpoint of protecting individual liberties. However, I will avoid making the claim that “individual liberty > national security.” I don’t believe Apple’s encryption poses a threat to national security in any way. The existence of Farook’s iPhone encryption is not what allowed him to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil. I think other factors involved were more important to his success, but I am open to discussion.

ZJL

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