The US Attorney-General, Eric H. Holder Jr, spoke out yesterday about backdoors in consumer technology, claiming that they should be left open by technology firms so that law enforcement officials are never locked out during important investigations.
Speaking about new forms of encryption that could theoretically prevent police officers and other government officials from accessing personal data, he claimed that they could harm investigations of kidnappers and sexual predators, and in turn put children at increased risk. He explained:
“It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy. When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”
The statement follows handwringing by law enforcement officials across the U.S. over Apple’s new iOS 8 encryption policy, which was swiftly adopted by Google too. Following a similar outburst by the Director of the FBI, Holder now becomes the most senior government official to publicly criticise technology companies for making the job of law enforcement difficult by using heightened encryption.
While closing backdoors seems to bewilder those in law enforcement, there are a great many that are keen supporters of what Apple, Google and others are doing. In the wake of stories about government surveillance, which we’ve recently learned is much more widespread than previously thought, keeping the door closed doesn’t, perhaps, seem too bad an idea for most of us. [Washington Post]
Picture: Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.