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Should end-to-end encryption be banned?

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26.Mar, 2020 0 Data Privacy

Of late, issues surrounding data protection and security have come to the fore as data breaches, hacks become widespread. Varying interventions have been proffered and implemented by stakeholders to address this widespread plague.

One such intervention is end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption refers to a system of communication where only the communicating users can read the messages exchanged. It is a form of data encryption that prevents eavesdroppers – such as telecom providers, Internet providers, state agents, or nosy individuals – from being able to access the conversation details. In essence, the gadgets or respective communication means -such as applications- used by the parties in the conversation exclusively possess the cryptographic keys needed to decrypt the conversation. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, are examples of top communication applications that offer end-to-end encryption.

With all the good that end-to-end encryption does, some critical concerns accompany it. Just as it assures the privacy of users involved, it also makes the communications of criminals inaccessible to law enforcement. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to access relevant data, stop crimes in the process, and obtain evidence necessary for prosecuting criminals.

Authorities around the world see access to messaging, smartphones, e-mail, and voice and data applications as non-negotiable, as they look forward to preventing, solving and prosecuting crimes. The case of Syed Rizwan Farook who killed some US citizens, but whose conversations Apple has refused to decrypt, is still evergreen.

What this all shows is that there is no single solution to data privacy or security. Be that as it may, it shouldn’t be a premise on which end to end encryption should be banned. The best we can do is to try finding a balance between opposing sides.


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