Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, there has been a renewed discussion about backdoors in encryption tools. It was triggered by remarks from intelligence sources, some of which were launched anonymously in the media, although there was no evidence of communication between the terrorists. Conversely, there was even evidence that these communicated encrypted.
The hasty demands for a softening of encryption standards were not only to be expected, but rather the intelligence organizations had actually hoped for such an opportunity. “The legislation is currently very negative,” lamented their main legal representative Robert S. Litt in August in a later by the Washington Post published an email to colleagues the obstacles that opposed a ban of effective encryption. “This could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or a criminal action in which it can be shown that strong encryption has hindered law enforcement officers.” He recommended that “our options kept open for such a situation.”
Even the New York Times was first in on the corresponding suggestions. Citing unnamed European government officials, they reported on the alleged use of encryption technology to interact with the terrorist militia IS. However, the newspaper took the report back and sat down in the next critical look at such information and the assertion that mass surveillance is the right answer to combat terrorism.
“I think that will trigger a whole new debate about security versus privacy”, said shortly after the attacks of the former CIA deputy director Michael Morell the CBS. You might know not yet, but will probably soon learn that the attackers “this encrypted Apps” used. He spoke of “commercial encryption, which is for government agencies very difficult, if not impossible to break.” The manufacturers of these encryption would give out any keys – which was due to the whistleblower Edward Snowden and the current public debate. “I think now we will have a more public discussion about encryption, and whether the government should have the keys. And I think the result will be different this time turn out as a result of what happened in Paris. “
With similar expressions are CIA Director John Brennan, the New York Police Chief William J. Bratton and other officials joined. European investigators even put games consoles under suspicion and leaked, the terrorists had used encrypted communications via PlayStation Network to prepare their attacks. Even British politicians called for stricter monitoring measures and a ban on end-to-end encryption.
TechCrunch sat down thoroughly with the allegations apart and came to the conclusion that the Verschlüssellungsdebatte should ultimately detract from the fact that the mass surveillance had proved inadequate to prevent the attacks. Wired refuted point by point the arguments for backdoors. The former NBC reporter Bob Sullivan described the proponents weakened encryption standards as “anti-encryption opportunists”.
Nate Cardozo of the civil rights organization EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) pointed out that the work of the security agencies is now being hindered by an excess of collected data. So there was in France a database with no less than 11,000 suspects, but had not succeeded, in a timely manner to determine the important traces. “If Snowden has taught us anything, it is that the secret services are drowning in data,” Cardozo said, “You have this all-collecting mentality, and that’s why they have this insane amount of data. It’s not about having enough information; the problem does not know what to do with existing data. That was before September 11, and will meet today even more.”