Encryption is currently under threat, some countries already requiring backdoors and other compromising measures to be put in place. The debate on the effects of allowing encryption rages on in many nations, with institutions such as the FBI insisting on the ability to crack it even as tech industry giants warn them against it. An organization often thought to threaten cyber privacy, the NSA have staked out a pro-encryption stance.
The maelstrom of debate surrounding the crippling of encryption has centered on the idea that encryption would allow criminals and terrorists to hide more easily from police and governments. Allowing state powers access to all encrypted devices and transmissions has the key flaw that it could allow illicit groups access to any person’s data should the backdoor be leaked or cracked.
“Encryption is foundational to the future,” was what NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers reported to the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C. think tank. He believes that the cybersecurity battles that could be in the near future would hinge on more widespread encryption, with massive hacks on government and corporate systems potentially leaking vital data only becoming more likely with worsened encryption. Compared to other figures like FBI Director James Comey, a crusader for encryption backdoors, Rogers doesn’t think that “security is the imperative and that ought to drive everything.” Instead, proper and widespread encryption should be an accepted thing and instead, intelligence organizations should work out the best way to deal with it. Rogers is not the first NSA director to support encryption either, with former NSA boss Mike McConnell and Michael Hayden, the NSA Director before him taking the same position.
“Spending time arguing about ‘hey, encryption is bad and we ought to do away with it’ … that’s a waste of time to me.” – Mike Rogers
The NSA defending encryption and privacy is certainly a good thing, but when you consider the information on them leaked by whistleblowers like Edward Snowdon, is there more to it than this? It is clear that the NSA have very advanced hacking and spying tactics, so maybe they don’t believe that encryption would impair them from getting the data they need. Rogers spoke nothing on the matter, so any discussion is idle speculation.
So far, the US Federal government has no intention of pursuing legislation against encryption, despite a small number of states already proposing bills that could compromise it. Maybe the NSA speaking out on the topic could cause a rethink on the matter and deter the US and other nations from ruining this key technology through law out of fear.