Last week, Obama Administration officials revealed that they will not force technology companies to weaken encryption to give government officials special access to users’ data. However, this is only a partial win for advocates of smart digital security policy. As our U.S. policy manager Amie Stepanovich explains in a post at Just Security, ambiguity remains with regard to the administration’s stand on encryption.
Among the problems that this lack of clarity causes: It leaves encryption policy in the realm of hush-hush agreements and behind-the-scenes coercion.
To prevent “further posturing” by government officials and law enforcement, and to ensure that civil society is included in the discussion, Stepanovich argues, “we need to ensure that the conversation about encryption stays public.”
“What companies refuse to do in broad daylight should not be coerced in private agreements made in secret meeting rooms,” she writes. “Instead, we need a public statement that the administration will pledge to protect and encourage the use of encryption, and reject any policy that requires backdoors, vulnerabilities, key escrow, or exceptional access, and take a stand against any government who doesn’t do the same.”
“Otherwise,” writes Stepanovich, “it will only end poorly for users in the U.S. and around the world.”