Two sides of a coin

A few days ago, the Swedish minister of internal affairs, said the the police needed better possibilities to wiretap communications in order to avoid acts of terror.

In the old days, when the bad guys where using traditional voice calls, it was easy to intercept the communication for the police. However, with IP-based communication, using different apps, the possibilities for the autorities to tap messages are very low due to encryption and other means to be anonymous.

One side of the coin is that we would like to know what the bad guys are talking about. The other side of the same coin is that we want to avoid the bad guys to know what we are doing. To complicate matters even more, one countrys hero is an another countys villian. We can just have a look at the previous history of Denmark and Sweden where the same king was both tyrant and hero depending where you grew up.

As an example, take a large multinational company with lot of research. They don't want competitors to eavesdrop their systems and will protect both their calls and information with encryption. They neither wan't foreign governments to spy on them and stealing trade secrets.

Then there are the issue with international affairs.  If one government have access to the encryption, the others want it too. As a company, you risk to have your products banned if you share your backdoor to one country but not the other. E.g. Blackberry had this problem in some countries.

If you have a back-door shared with trusted governments, then the question is how long time it will take to some hackers to find the keys. They are rather good at finding holes in different products, so the concept of back-doors would be grated by them as well. With open source, everybody have access to the source code, which means that you can´t have any back-doors. What you get is putting up the key on the front door for everybody to use. 

Even if you ban encryption, it´s still very simple to send secret messages across the world. A very simple example would be to send an image, with a messages overlay-ed on the image. E.g. change every 258 byte in the file that compose the image, to letters in the message you want to send. You could make it very more advanced to avoid surveillance if you are skilled in cryptography.

So my take, is that the politicians wishes are impossible to fulfill due to how we implement digital technology in every aspect of life today. 

For more thoughts about personal integrity, tolerance and trust, please view the video Privacy now and in the future with Greger Wikstrand and myself.