The “problem” with encryption of private communications is becoming empirical rather than hypothetical. Hillar Moore, District Attorney for East Baton Rouge, LA, says he’s one of 16 prosecutors to write the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for back doors into encrypted devices for law enforcement.
He, and other state and local prosecutors and police have a mix of smart phones owned by deceased victims and suspects that those government representatives can’t get into for any evidence related to the crimes being investigated because the phones are locked and the passwords are unavailable or the suspects refuse to give them up.
While I’m sympathetic to the government’s problem in such cases, the fatal problem is those back doors into the encryption. Back doors destroy the encryption. Back doors are openings for nefarious individuals to steal from the phone’s owner. Back doors are openings for out of control governments to abuse the citizens they’re supposed to protect.
That there aren’t easy answers to the conundrum—yet—doesn’t alter that simple fact. Nor does it alter the fact that the convenience of government is not an excuse for circumscribing individual liberty.
In the meantime, if government wants to know something, get a warrant.