Trump Administration Considering Crackdown On End To End Encryption

From the “worst idea ever” file comes a report in Politico that the Trump administration held a National Security Council meeting on Wednesday that weighed the challenges and benefits of encryption. And in said meeting, this happened:

Senior officials debated whether to ask Congress to effectively outlaw end-to-end encryption, which scrambles data so that only its sender and recipient can read it, these people told POLITICO. Tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have increasingly built end-to-end encryption into their products and software in recent years — billing it as a privacy and security feature but frustrating authorities investigating terrorism, drug trafficking and child pornography.

“The two paths were to either put out a statement or a general position on encryption, and [say] that they would continue to work on a solution, or to ask Congress for legislation,” said one of the people.

But the previously unreported meeting of the NSC’s so-called Deputies Committee did not produce a decision, the people said.

A decision to press for legislation would have far-reaching consequences for the privacy and security of tens of millions of consumers and effectively force companies such as Apple and Google to water down the security features on their smartphones and other devices.

I honestly don’t know which is worse. The fact that this is being discussed at all, or it’s being discussed behind closed doors. But in any case, Trump isn’t the first president to try this. Obama tried something like this, and before him the second George Bush tried  something like this, and Bill Clinton tried something like this too. None of those went anywhere because they all got epic pushback on various fronts. I expect that to happen here too as Silicon Valley are no fans of the Trump administration. And congress are unlikely to go along with this. Though it does bear watching as this is far from being a trivial exercise.

 

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