The topic of privacy and encryption is still being kicked around by government officials these days. Notably the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is for forcing users to decrypt their communication and devices. The CACP voted to support legal changes which would permit judges to “compel encryption key holders” to reveal it to law enforcement.
Encryption Does Not Make It Harder To Solve Crime
It is not the first, nor the last time; law enforcement agencies want to compel users into decrypting sensitive data. These stories have been circulating for quite some time now, and they will continue to do for the foreseeable future. While it is true criminals operate online in an anonymous manner, decrypting those tools is not the answer to solving crimes.
Canadian law currently offers no provision for legally demand suspects to provide passwords or encryption keys during an investigation. While the CACP is for creating such a law, privacy advocates will oppose the concept at every turn. As they rightfully should, since law enforcement has no business in tracking anyone’s online communication.
As was to be expected, the CACP cited an internal report arguing how law enforcement has a harder time lawfully accessing and examining digital evidence. That doesn’t justify demanding a law that will force anyone to decrypt their information, though, as it would only lead to more consumer privacy violations. Then again, that seems to suit law enforcement agencies around the world just fine, as they could not care less about individual privacy.
It did not take long for the first pushback to occur. This proposal has been labelled as “wildly disproportionate” by OpenMedia spokesperson David Christopher. Although user privacy is not a constitutional right by any means, there should be no legal precedent for invading anyone’s privacy based on a hunch. If there is no substantial evidence against someone, law enforcement agencies should have no grounds to ask for decryption keys either.
Finding a balance between respecting user privacy and solving cyber crime will be a difficult task. Then again, one could argue law enforcement is too quickly resorting to less legal matters to obtain the evidence they need. Perhaps it is time to rethink the whole strategy regarding cyber crime and rebuild it from the ground up, rather than demanding invasion privacy laws.
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