It’s a showdown over encryption, and we need your voice.
The Obama administration just responded to the 104,109 people who asked the president to stand up for strong encryption. The response—penned by Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Ed Felten and Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel—acknowledged the importance of the conversation but offered no conclusions. Instead, they asked us to share our thoughts on encryption.
That means we need the help of Internet users worldwide who care about security. You can tell the Obama administration exactly what you think about the importance of encryption by filling out this form.
Below are some talking points for why encryption without law enforcement backdoors is important. We urge you to send these comments to the White House as part of your response to the form:
- Weakening encryption makes us all less secure. We cannot create a back door, a front door, or any other kind of door for the United States government that cannot be exploited by malicious hackers and other foreign governments. Security experts agree on this point.
- Forcing American companies to compromise the security of their own products hurts U.S. business interests, creating distrust and uncertainty for consumers who might use American technology.
- Undermining encryption in the United States will primarily affect everyday users who have done nothing wrong. Bad actors will simply move overseas.
Another option? You can just paste the original petition into the form. If the Obama Administration wants to know what we think about encryption, it should refer to the original language signed on by over 100,000 people:
As a public, we should be confident that the services we use haven’t been weakened or compromised by government mandate or pressure. No legislation, executive order, or private agreement with the government should undermine our rights.
Notably, the White House says in their response that “administration officials will sit down with the creators of this petition to hear directly from them about their priorities and concerns.”
Unfortunately, that’s not true. EFF set up this petition on the White House petition site. UPDATE: While there have been several small meetings at the White House involving the many sponsors to the petition, including one this week, EFF was unable to attend this one and it wasn’t clear that this was a response to the petition.
In the official response, the president is quoted as saying “There is no scenario in which we don’t want really strong encryption.” Make no mistake: in our view, and in the view of an all-star group of cryptographers, “really strong encryption” means encryption made without compromises. It means encryption without so-called exceptional access capabilities. It means encryption without backdoors.
But from the way that folks like FBI Director James Comey have been talking, they seem to believe that “really strong encryption” could somehow include weaknesses, mechanisms such as split keys or other forms of key escrow, intentionally inserted to allow law enforcement access. We need to stand firm with the scientists who have addressed the issue: strong crypto is critical to our safety, and to the security of our communications and stored data. And what the math tells us is this: no compromises.
DECEMBER 8, 2015 | BY RAINEY REITMAN