I did my best to avoid it but ended up reading a particularly wrong-headed article in the Washington Post anyway: Compromise needed on smartphone encryption. In it, the editors of that mouthpiece of the establishment argue that citizens protecting their data from all who would steal it are somehow interfering with the ostensibly legitimate aims of law enforcement. Here’s the most curious bit:
How to resolve this? A police “back door” for all smartphones is undesirable — a back door can and will be exploited by bad guys, too. However, with all their wizardry, perhaps Apple and Google could invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant.
It’s a nice bit of sleight of mouth, that. How could a “secure golden key” be anything but a back door? It would be a secret means by which certain entities could take control of a computing device against the will of that device’s lawful owner, and that is the definition of a back door. But WaPo jiggered the words to make the notion palatable to those they consider the unthinking masses, and there surely are those who are sufficiently unthinking to swallow it.
We could debate the trustworthiness of governments and law enforcement agencies until we’re blue in our faces, but in the end the fact remains that there is absolutely no technical distinction between “back door” and “secure golden key”. If there’s a backdoor it will be discovered by parties who did not install it, just as unintentional security vulnerabilities like Heartbleed and Shellshock and thousands more have been and will continue to be discovered.
I’m going to leave this topic now and without discussing why I believe my absolute distrust of law enforcement is the only rational approach. Surprising, isn’t it?
Be well, friends and neighbors. Encrypt everything.