A former head of the US National Security Agency (NSA) told a conference that the FBI’s attempts to ban encryption are a bad idea, reports CNN.
General Michael Hayden, speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Miami Beach came out in favor of encryption saying, “I actually think end-to-end encryption is good for America.”
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At a government level, the Obama administration has no plans to prevent companies like Google and Apple from offering its users end-to-end encryption to prevent hackers from accessing text messages and voice calls. But if reports today are correct, that could be about to change.
However, FBI director James Corney wants companies to provide a backdoor so that they can rummage through encrypted messages to help combat terrorism and domestic crime, which effectively makes encryption entirely meaningless.
He said the below to a Senate judiciary committee late last year:
Many communications services now encrypt certain communications by default, with the key necessary to decrypt the communications solely in the hands of the end user. This applies both when the data is “in motion” over electronic networks, or “at rest” on an electronic device. If the communications provider is served with a warrant seeking those communications, the provider cannot provide the data because it has designed the technology such that it cannot be accessed by any third party.
Speaking against this idea, Hayden argues, “I know encryption represents a particular challenge for the FBI. But on balance, I actually think it creates greater security for the American nation than the alternative: a backdoor.”
It seems a bit odd that the former head of a government agency that has had its wrists slapped multiple times for trying to crack Web encryption and of course, gather vast troves of US citizens private data without warrant, should come out in favor of making his former colleagues’ jobs more difficult.
Perhaps it’s a concession that it nearly impossible to regulate a piece of software that is already so well established and used all over the world. Additionally, if people discover one company is providing a backdoor to governments, what’s stopping them from just moving on to a service that doesn’t?