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Encryption: We must say no to back doors

Web Foundation · February 18, 2016

Yesterday, it was reported that the FBI has asked Apple to build a ‘back-door’ into its iPhone software. Apple have responded saying the creation of such a back-door would allow law enforcement – or anyone who finds the vulnerability – to unlock any iPhone by circumventing passcode security features.

Commenting, Anne Jellema, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation said:

“Today, our lives are online. We rely on encryption to bank safely, do business privately, protect sensitive information from terrorists and other criminals, or even just to chat privately with our loved ones. Companies must do everything in their power to keep our personal information safe, so we can trust that our online communications are private and secure.

“Attempts to break encryption or otherwise weaken online security are misguided and will have the net effect of leaving us all less safe. Forcing companies to build backdoors into their products is equivalent to leaving a key for law enforcement under a mat, and then naively imagining that criminals won’t use that key too.

“The precedent set in the Apple case will reverberate around the world. Apple are to be commended for standing up for the privacy and safety of their customers – we urge other technology companies to do the right thing and make public their support for strong encryption too.”

What do you think? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @webfoundation. Media requests can be sent to press@webfoundation.org.

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  1. Ray mahlberg

    February 19, 2016

    What is more important to you? A dead terrorists privacy or the lives of your parents and your children. When this dead terrorist friends KILL YOUR parents and children. Will you celebrate that a dead terrorists privacy was protected. Will you go on TV saying the lives of your parents and children are the cost of protecting our privacy. I am not a criminal or a terrorist. I have nothing to hide. If law enforcement thinks I have committed a crime they can easily with a valid search warrant, go to my bank or doctor and get my extremely private sensitive, medical and banking records. If the police get a valid search warrant and search my phone. They will find my friends phone numbers, what I do on the web, the books and music I like. No problem. Who is afraid? Terrorists the police can find plans on killing inocent people, the members of the terror cell, who is paying for it. Stupid criminals, detail about past crimes, future crimes, who buys stolen items and members of crime gang. I say stupid because of the criminals posting video's on Facebook. They are baffled why they are sitting in jail. Again stupid. Drug dealers details on everything they do. Do you really think the police care about what is on your cellphone.

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    1. David Guillot

      February 23, 2016

      Your response seems legitimate, but unfortunately it's mainly emotional, and it makes you forget some very important aspects of this debate:1/ Depending on the country you live in, your government DOES care about what's on your phones, especially if you're a political opponent (which is a very wide term, sometimes it's just that you're a pacific environmentalist)2/ If a government can exploit backdoors, hackers can as well, and:2a/ You DO NOT want some of these guys steal your data2b/ It's a know fact that terrorists recruit hackers ; you DO NOT want terrorists be able to hack some phones (members from your government, people in charge of public area security, etc.)3/ If this debate was about the real/physical world (eg. "should my government be able to read my personal letters?"), most people would be outraged by this possibility ; but in the digital world, most people don't even understand what we're talking about, so they're completely resigned about their privacy (after all, Snapchat servers host millions of underaged half-naked girls photos, and nobody cares, because the photos "disappear"...). In my opinion this is not a debate about privacy, this is a debate about educating people to this new world they don't understand.As I said, your response is legitimate but emotional ; and hopefully in our democracies, most people would look at this matter with rational eyes, and would say that terrorism victims ARE, INDEED, the price of everyone's privacy. Oh but wait a second... This backdoor thing is a request from the FBI, so the democracy didn't have a word to say about it... So we have to FIGHT, and even if I don't like them too much, Apple is doing the right thing.

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      1. Bill

        February 27, 2016

        You are missing the point. Many people have their privacy compromised by criminals. The Internet has too many holes. Strong encryption is good technology we need to fix the privacy holes. It's not about "nothing to hide". It's about making a better internet and safer online world. You forget the FBI cannot get in our heads. We already have unbreakable information in our brains. There is no backdoor into our private thoughts. Likewise, if two people have a private conversation in a remote location, the FBI cannot find out what was said later with a warrant. Strong encryption gives us another avenue of privacy apart from whispering in person. We already have strong encryption which would take years to crack by brute force given a strong enough password. We can already encrypt a USB drive for example. Now we simply want that for our phones and applied even to 4 digit passcodes so that number of retry attempts before self destruction cannot be exploited.We have a basic right to privacy which should not be taken away. There are lots of ways to fight crime without needing to compromise privacy for everyone.

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