The United States Justice Department hinted that their next primary target in the world of tech might be end-to-end encrypted messages. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen aimed at the technology in a speech delivered on the 18th of November, 2019. However, the interest in this technological advancement isn’t exactly new. Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies have raised concerns about the use of this technology by criminals to obscure their digital traces for over two decades.
Privacy vs. Security?
End-to-End encrypted transmissions ensure that nobody that intercepts the communication can decipher what’s inside of it. For law enforcement that uses surveillance to collect data on potential criminals, this can be a severe drawback. However, legitimate concerns exist for the tech’s continued use. Encrypted transmissions ensure privacy between communicants. For individuals that are concerned about the government or other organizations gathering data on them, these encrypted messages are exactly what they want for their peace of mind.
How End-to-End Encryption Works
End-to-end encryption operates between two devices. The sending device encrypts a message into a non-readable format then sends it to the second device, which then decrypts the statement for the recipient to read. How it does this is by generating two cryptographic codes, a public key, and a private key. Any device with the public key can send messages to the machine, but only the device with the private key can decode those messages. The result is that only the recipient can read the words since the private key is stored locally on the device.
A Long, Protracted Battle
End-to-end Encryption has gone back and forth for years. One of the most recent cases of law enforcement trying to defeat it was in 2016 when the FBI attempted to compel Apple to install a backdoor in their device for law enforcement to read encrypted messages. The rhetoric for creating a backdoor for governments and law enforcement continues to this day, even though Apple successfully defended the FBI’s attempt. End-to-End encryption offers a level of privacy and freedom that, once compromised, can never be recovered.