Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Liberty and cryptography

tech & briefly 1 min read

Two-and-counting US states want to require smartphones be decryptable and unlockable by their manufacturer or OS provider. This is the kind of palatable craziness that periodically comes out of America, or indeed the UK’s Westminster government.

Cryptographic backdoors are vulnerabilities; systems are either mathematically secure or they aren’t. Every master key will be found, eventually. Even if you’re not worried about your country’s own security infrastructure – and you ought to be – consider the idea of a foreign power or criminal enterprise being able to get into any of your citizens’ devices. That’s literally what’s being asked for. It’s an inevitability, given sufficient time. There’s no shortage of motivation.

Yes, terrorists and other criminals use crypto. Yes, it’d be easier to thwart them if it could be circumvented. Yes, lives would potentially be saved. But that’s idealistic, short-term thinking. Bad things are always going to happen. If we try to prevent them by doing other bad things, we have two problems instead of one.

We have to find another way round. Current intractability of a social ill isn’t an excuse to pre-emptively curtail liberty, and weaken all of us.