It’s not a complete victory for security advocates, but still a reprieve they could rejoice in. White House spokesperson Mark Stroh told the press Saturday that the Obama administration isn’t going to push for legislation that would require tech and network companies to provide backdoor access to their encrypted systems. At least not yet. The government still stands by its position on encryption despite increasing opposition from advocates and companies themselves. For now, however, they could breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t have legislature breathing down their necks for a while.
Stroh made clear that the White House hasn’t reversed its opinion on the matter. Echoing what the FBI testified to in a recent Senate hearing, Stroh says that the use of encryption has become a real hurdle to the FBI’s goals of protecting public safety and national security. The government wants companies to know that they are, in effect, empowering criminals, or at the very least protecting them, under the blanket security provided by encryption.
Naturally, companies are averse to any implementation that would weaken the services they offer, which would turn away customers as well. Security experts have warned the US government and its allies that such a backdoor access, once required by law, would be like an open invitation for hackers to try and crack the door. A backdoor would work not only for the government but for the very criminals that the government wish to hunt down.
Those warnings might have finally gotten its intended effect after a spate of hacking incidents beset government offices such as the Office of Personnel Management and the Internal Revenue Service, resulting to stolen information of both government employees as well as US citizens. The cases have called into question the US government’s capability to protect itself, much less the millions of data that they will have access to should such a law come to pass.
It isn’t clear yet if and when such a push would be taken up again. With the presidential elections taking place next year, the torch will most likely be taken up, or completely dropped, by the next administration.