Lately there has been a lot of news surrounding data and encryption. The FBI wants Apple to create a backdoor in their iOS – just this once, of course – and in The Netherlands, ‘Stichting Brein’ has been given the green light to mine through data to find uploaders of copyrighted material.
First of all: I think it is absurd that a non-governmental organisation like ‘Brein’, that has nothing to do with any form of law enforcement or security, can go through all this data only to serve a commercial purpose! Where will that end?
In the case of the FBI, it is easier to see what the reasoning behind it is. But still, I am with Tim Cook and Apple on this one. What are the safeguards? Today it is a backdoor to ‘just this one cell phone’, but what about tomorrow? And what about other agencies that want to have access?
The problem however with Tim Cook’s defiance is that it will backfire at one point. I think that US legislators will eventually come up with laws to compel not only Apple, but all tech companies to help the FBI with more and more insight. And the same will go for The Netherlands I’m sure.
For instance: Brein is allowed to check the data that is being sent and received per IP address to see how much data is being uploaded via Torrent web sites. An obvious measure to block Brein to see what data is being transferred, would be to use a VPN connection, hiding your own IP address. Usually, that will encrypt the data as well. But mark my words, if everybody would do that all the time, then the government will see that as an excuse to come up with new legislation to legislate the use of VPNs.
With all these people that want to look at your data and will get court orders to do so, you might ask yourself if data encryption should still be standard procedure these days. The more it is used, the greater the chance that it will become counterproductive, as there will be legislation to ban the use of it. Supporting organizations such as Bits of Freedom helps the non-technical part of the problem. For the technical part, we would need a novel technical solution to safely transfer data. What will it be?