The problem for those who are against e2ee is that its already in use, and working well, and open source. The horse is bolted. They can bleat and ban it, but people who value it well continue to use it and develop it further, & probably go underground/dark net.
However, I agree with you mostly, but we won't lose it all.
Is this in reaction to https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/10/orders-top-eus-timetable-dismantling-end-end-encryption ?
I'm much more pro- than against-#encryption, so count me on your side. Still, that kind of black-or-white approach isn't helpful here (as with many other issues).
Why alienate fellow defenders of #E2E who might have a more nuanced view? Can't we admit that there will be instances of people, uses, circumstances, and tools, where we might want a well-argumented, good-intentioned warrant to be able to penetrate into secret data or communications — for the common good?
I don't have a solution at hand that could balance the best of both worlds. But to admit that it'll be hard and that in the pursuit of legit concerns sometimes individual rights will be sadly infringed upon (as IRL, all the time) is not the same as not even trying and resorting to the extreme.
I know that Maths can't be contained, that algorithms are just numbers, that the back door intended for the goodies could fall in the hands of the baddies… as I said, I'm an ally.
That being said: of course there's middle ground with regards to #encryption! — very few issues in life are either black or white. Let's not oversimplify or advocate for the extreme; at least not without examining or trying alternatives.
#E2E isn't all that different from other great powers that societies (try to) control: firearms, natural resources, the press, drugs, etc. In those cases, we seek balances between #freedom and #security. Why not here?
For instance: we trust seven human beings with the private keys to DNSSEC worldwide (even if those keys could fall in the wrong hands); we trust judges in democratic countries to suspend the rights of individuals when it's necessary to prevent harm to others (even at the risk of them abusing that capacity sometimes); we trust the police to use weapons that we ban for ourselves (instead of throwing our hands up in the air, saying “it's futile! criminals will find ways to get those weapons anyway!”, and making any weapon freely available to anyone)… Note the parallelisms with the three arguments most commonly used in favour of unrestricted E2E.
We could restrict strong encryption to people without criminal records (child abusers, terrorists, etc). We could demand that any system or app implementing strong encryption be “licensed” by democratic states (quickly, for free, without purpose limitations) so that in the event of a warrant it'll be easier to inventory exhibits and to spot illegal uses of encryption where the most incriminating evidence might be. In many day-to-day use cases, we could advocate for strong encryption (non-E2E) where the master key is the cryptographic product of three or four secret keys: one held by a representative of the company offering the service; one held by the corresponding Supreme Court, MoJ, or analogous democratic institution; one provided by some special department of the UNHRC. We could legally bundle “free E2E encryption for all” together much tougher laws that would harshly punish any party involved, or any witness to the communication/data, if they don't report “encrypted” crimes, or if they don't disclose any private keys in their possession in the course of investigations.
I'm not saying these ideas are particularly wise, or even feasible. I am no expert. I'm just saying: let's try to empower citizens and protect privacy without gifting all malicious actors in the world with amazing sacrosanct invisibility blankets.
@tripu @aral I’m neither an expert but my position comes from someone who’s seen good systems be used in very bad ways in his own country. Sure we allow judges to decide, but because judges are corruptible I don’t want death penalty to exist, even if there are some people who deserve to die for their crimes. I’ve seen a government buy or freighter judges and misuse that law. It’s simply better not to have it and try to punish criminals in other ways.
@tripu @aral to me back doors fall in the same category. Again having lived in a country where people had to flee because they were being hunted. If it would have been easy to access their information, the few that survived might not been able to do so. Also, we lost generations of people who could have tried to fight the government but didn’t because they were afraid of being persecuted. Imagine if they knew the government was always watching. It would be even worse
If you have a well-defined security hole for the purpose of law enforcement, you have a well-defined security hole for any purpose.
On the other hand: no matter the encryption, no communication is unbreakable, no security absolute.
*If* there is sufficient suspicion in any particular case, it can still be cracked. But e2ee by default means the cost of doing so remains sufficiently high that both authorities and malicious attackers need to make a conscious and dedicated effort.
Restricting e2ee simply provides a sense of control, combined with a reduction in security.
The only exceptions I see is for matters of piublic interest -- not private communications but things on the level of parliamentary debates, where the content should be available for public scrutiny.
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