FBI head voices concerns over WhatsApp encryption, predicts "collision" with law enforcment
Smartphone users demand their privacy – and rightfully so. And developers have been happy to equip them with powerful tools to protect that privacy, using encryption to keep messages safe from prying eyes. Almost inevitably, this seems to be leading to a showdown with law enforcement, as government interest in intercepting criminal communication clashes with the privacy rights of innocent civilians, to say nothing about its incompatibility with the mathematical systems that drive encryption algorithms. Now FBI Director James Comey is talking about the latest secure communication app to fuel the government's frustrations, as he shares a few words about WhatsApp.
As you may recall, earlier this year WhatsApp made big headway in securing its users' communications as it finished its global, cross-platform roll-out of powerful end-to-end encryption. With such a system in place, not even WhatsApp itself can read what its users are saying.
Comey acknowledges that most of those users are probably good, law-abiding folk, but there are also going to be some criminals or full-blown terrorists taking advantage of the app's security features.
What's to be done about that? Well, we've already heard that the Justice Department is keeping its eye on WhatsApp-related cases, and while Comey isn't ready to say that the government will take legal action to change how WhatsApp operates, he believes that something has to give. Just as there's a legal battle brewing over government access to encrypted devices like that San Bernardino iPhone, Comey says that a “collision is happening” when it comes to encrypted communications, too.
It's still too early to predict what the causalties from this clash might be, but we could well be looking at a future where truly secure communications are only a distant memory.
source: Politico via Gizmodo