Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica:
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called for a "Manhattan-like project" to help law enforcement break into encrypted communications. This is in reference to the Manhattan Project, the top-secret concentrated research effort which resulted in the US developing nuclear weapons during World War II.
At Saturday's Democratic debate (transcript here), moderator Martha Raddatz asked Clinton about Apple CEO Tim Cook's statements that any effort to break encryption would harm law-abiding citizens.
"You've talked a lot about bringing tech leaders and government officials together, but Apple CEO Tim Cook said removing encryption tools from our products altogether would only hurt law-abiding citizens who rely on us to protect their data," Raddatz said. "So would you force him to give law enforcement a key to encrypted technology by making it law?"
Clinton said she "would not want to go to that point" of forcing companies like Apple to give encryption keys to law enforcement.
I don't want to dwell too long on that last sentence, but there is something decidedly sinister in her wording. "Would not want to go to that point." In text, it sounds almost threatening.
I feel like I've thought about this topic so much lately. Hell, we just did nearly an entire episode of Limitless Adventure devoted to talking about privacy and encryption. But this is one of those things that I truly believe can't be ignored. We have an obligation to hold onto our rights, especially when it comes to the prospect of those rights being eroded by those that don't fully understand what is at stake. Politicians like Clinton and Cotton are grossly uninformed about technology, and they try to simplify a complex subject with emotional rhetoric. This is how shitty laws get passed or upheld, and how a populace loses the ability to be human.
Technology already moves too quickly for old laws to be applicable, and aging legislature is slow to adopt progressive measures to protect a reality that has moved on without them. The knee-jerk reaction is to try and temper advancement. This is the wrong approach. Unfortunately, we're partially to blame. We keep electing these people, even though they prove time and time again that they're not fit to lead a society that frequently outpaces them.
The ability to peer in on people's lives at any given moment is Orwellian at best. People should not be subjected to such potential intrusions in the name of "safety." If we believe in freedom, we should practice what we preach. A statistically insignificant percentage of criminals and other malicious entities out there should not cause the entire world to be subjected to unfettered scrutiny. To hold the innocent hostage, and claim it's for their own protection, is a dubious argument. That there are those out there that wouldn't think twice about claiming otherwise is terrifying.