Director of the FBI James Comey has stated that President Barack Obama will not work towards laws that would require technology companies to weaken their encryption systems by creating backdoors. Despite this, the American government will still continue to pressure major companies to establish backdoor access.
Comey said, “The administration has decided not to seek a legislative remedy now, but it makes sense to continue the conversations with industry."
Previously, Comey demanded access points in encryption systems that would let law enforcement officers and government workers to spy on citizens and break through their security programs.
However, the Obama Administration has been concerned about such a policy. The administration has been hesitant to weaken encryption, for fear of privacy issues. This has not stopped intelligence officials from trying to convince technology companies from weakening their encryption systems anyway.
On October 1st, intelligence agencies publicly gave up on trying to gain backdoor access. But that doesn’t mean they won’t continue pressuring tech companies in private.
National Security Council Spokesperson Mark Stroh said, “As the President has said, the United States will work to ensure that malicious actors can be held to account, (but) without weakening our commitment to strong encryption. 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.”
Even though they say they want to maintain security and encryption, federal officials still obviously want to find ways to defeat encryption. Security officials have already found ways to legally intercept communications. Their next expected course of action would be to uncover encrypted storage.
Basically, federal officials want to forcibly access messages and files that are stored on smartphones and computers, even if that means compromising security systems.
However, if backdoors are established, then criminal hackers would also be able to access such information, in addition to government officials. Establishing backdoors essentially makes encryption useless, as anyone with know-how will be able access critical information.
Furthermore, it’s not something that can be switched on or off. A system is either made to be secure, or it isn’t.
For now, the government is focused on keeping its efforts out of the eye of the public, for fears of backlash. Instead, it will pressure technology companies in private. Technologies will be caught in the middle, wanting to maintain public approval by providing secure systems, while also being heavily pressured by the feds.