WhatsApp just announced very strong end to end encryption for all users, so strong that the secured messages will be impossible to crack by any known technology, including by any known even to WhatsApp itself.
Clearly it is a step towards towards ensuring individual privacy, which is very much needed in today’s online connected world.
What I don’t like is the extreme nature of this technology where the secured messages are impossible to crack.
When it comes to restricting unlawful activity and preventing crime, ability to decipher and block communication channels of criminals has always been critical. This technology will not only make such an effort far more difficult but will also encourage and empower the people behind these acts.
I have nothing against Whatsapp for creating such technology. If they choose to gain competitive advantage or safe guard the interests of share holders at the cost security of country and humanity, it is their prerogative. On a smaller scale, even drug dealers do the same.
What I question is why creation and free distribution of this technology has not been declared illegal by law enforcement authorities.
After all it is illegal to sell drugs or to manufacture and freely sell dangerous weapons.
So why same standards should not be applied to this encryption technology which can potentially be far more dangerous.
In my opinion, to be legal, it should always be possible to break into encrypted messages. However, this act of breaking into encrypted messages can itself be declared a crime, thus ensuring individual privacy to the extent possible. But it should be available to law enforcement authorities.
This is analogous to the security of our homes. Most homes can be broken into, but such act is illegal, except under exceptional situations. As an example, after marathon bombing in Boston, police were searching the entire neighborhood in an effort to catch the suspect. Was that method of catching the suspect an invasion of privacy of residents, which should have been avoided and should be declared illegal in future?
If the answer to this is no, then there is no reason why free distribution of this technology should not be declared illegal.