Below the “…” is a comment I just submitted to the Whitehouse.gov petition site re: the “Publicly affirm your support for strong encryption” petition. I thought it was worthy of being spread to the public eye.

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First of all — “Golden Key” encryption, where a (set of) trusted third party(s) is provided a method to break a user’s encryption without knowledge of their key, while simultaneously preventing malicious actors from doing the same, is a technical impossibility. The EFF elaborates better than I could: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/07/top-five-takeaways-todays-hearings-encryption (point #1, bottom of the page, although I encourage anyone truly interested in listening to constituents to read the entire article.)

Secondly — Encryption, in my opinion, is a constitutional right. The Second Amendment states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Well, in this digital age, any American — civilian or military — working against cyberterror, digital malice, or even working against physical threats through digital means, is to my mind, a member of the American cyber militia. One of the prime armaments in any citizen’s digital arsenal is secure communication between them and a colleague. Thus, I firmly believe that encryption is a modern form of Arms, as protected under the Second Amendment.
However, just as I am no opponent of sensible gun regulation (and prosecution for manufacturers), I am also not ideologically opposed to regulation of encryption tools. For example, in a case where a search warrant is authorized against an American citizen or permanent resident, I would not be opposed to requiring any ‘hidden crypto’ system (any publicly-available, American-based company which provides secure connections between users seamlessly, a la browser-facilitated HTTPS or the Signal instant messenger app) to allow warrant-bearing federal officials to snoop on the communications originating from the person or persons to whom a legally-obtained warrant pertains, and/or pressuring/convincing collaborators with the target to allow you to snoop on the receiving end.

Thirdly, unlike Republican arguments re: guns (erroneously saying that they protect against physical threat, when statistically they cause physical threat/harm much more frequently), encryption has been proven time and time again as a critical infrastructure to prevent malicious action against all different types of people and organizations, from perpetrators both foreign, domestic, and unknown. The moment that there exists any system which could allow access to encrypted datastreams without either a) significant investment in computing power (which NSA could leverage against identified threats when warranted, with existing technologies), b) significant filtering by humans (which requests to corporate entities for the release of a target’s relevant data can accomplish), or c) seizure of a target’s physical computing materiel (with all appropriate judicial process)… the moment such a system exists, it becomes a multi-TRILLION dollar target for any digital actor with malice or an unscrupulous profit motive in their heart. Identity theft on statewide and nationwide scales is just the tip of an iceberg so large it would put the glaciers of the Earth’s geologic history to shame.

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Recognize the dangers of encryption that a government can’t break in time of need, sure; but, at the same time, recognize the fallout of a world in which encryption ceases to exist overnight, because that is the world which we would be in if intelligence gathering is allowed to trump the security of the nation.

I shall be reposting this as an open letter.

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