Backdoor to encrypted data banished (for now)

President Barack Obama and his administration will not require companies to decrypt user communications for use by law enforcement.

…the administration has decided not to “seek a legislative remedy” for the encryption predicament, The Washington Post reported. Essentially, Obama won’t require companies to build backdoors into their products.

This decision follows months of speculation and can be viewed as a win for those concerned with maintaining user privacy and protecting data from cyber criminals.

FBI Director James B. Comey argued against default device encryption and supports legislation requiring backdoor access into mobile devices and applications for intelligence and law enforcement purposes. He states that allowing encrypted communication will negatively impact U.S. ability to investigate criminals, terrorists and spies.

Computer security pioneers and technology giants disagree and equate providing exceptional access to user communications to leaving a key to your home under the doormat for any common criminal to find. In short, the same backdoor created for law enforcement use could, and would, eventually, be used by hackers to gain access to user data.

Privacy organizations and technology companies also expressed concerns over the impact of backdoor legislation. These companies warn that backdoor access could be used to hand over user data to the government without having to notify data processors, controllers or end users.

“Internet users—both in the United States and abroad—deserve to trust their digital service providers, and this step would go a long way to amending the trust rift caused by years of privacy abuses by the NSA [National Security Agency].”

Instead of calling for blanket backdoor legislation for all companies, the U.S. will work with private companies to mitigate the actions of malicious actors using their encrypted software to conduct illegal business.

As the president has said, the United States will work to ensure that malicious actors can be held to account — without weakening our commitment to strong encryption,” Mark Stroh, National Security Council spokesman, said in an interview with the newspaper. “As part of those efforts, we are actively engaged with private companies to ensure they understand the public safety and national security risks that result from malicious actors’ use of their encrypted products and services.”

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