On the FBI, Apple, and encryption

The last few months have seen this blog remarkably silent as I have taken a double full-time load at graduate school and work three jobs–there simply has not been time to write amidst everything else going on. And despite the fact that my workload this week is even busier than normal, I am writing now because I believe your voice is needed to do five simple things to ensure the current debate regarding encryption is won.

My purpose is not to summarize what has currently happened. Others have ably done that. Nor is it my purpose to make a strident case for why encryption is important or why it is an absolute issue. Others have done that admirably well, including a humorous, if somewhat crude, presentation by John Oliver.

Rather, my purpose is to ask you to take 10 minutes of your day to do five simple things:1

  1. Sign The White House We The People petition asking the government to halt its efforts to create encryption backdoors.
  2. Comment on The White House’s request for comment on strong encryption. Copy your comments here and you can re-use them for #3 and #4.
  3. Contact Senator Burr and express your concerns about his legislation to require encryption backdoors.
  4. Contact Senator Feinstein and express your concerns about her legislation to require encryption backdoors.
  5. Share this article with your sphere of influence. Use the social media buttons at the bottom. Every voice counts.

I believe the strongest argument we can make to government officials is that our security as a nation is greater when we have encryption protecting everything. After all, the number of people harmed from identity theft, blackmail, and economic/military espionage is far greater than the number harmed from the evils of terrorism or child pornography. Yes, the harm from those is catastrophic to a few, but the harm from the former affects tens of millions more in ways that can be just as devastating, resulting in deaths as lifelong psychological and emotional scarring.

Here is a copy of my letter for your inspiration.

Senators Feinstein and Burr,

Since encryption stands between everyone and my intensely personal data and since that data is either fully encrypted or not, the proposed legislation that you have proposed is deeply worrisome to me.

I understand that the government has a legitimate need to access the data of criminals, but the process of weakening encryption exposes that data to all kinds of criminals and identity thieves. Since such deeply personal information is contained on our phones–everything from the location of our children to our medicine prescriptions to intimate photos to all my financial information to business secrets–it is vital that all of the information remain encrypted so that it may not be accessed by anyone, criminals, employers, identity thieves, paparazzi, blackmailers, and the government. Since data is either encrypted or not, the issue is an absolute binary situation: if data is accessible to one of those parties, it would inevitably be or become accessible to all.

I understand that this would mean some serious crimes may be committed and unsolved and that terrorist attacks may be easier to plan. However, given the massive amount of identity theft in the US, economically-movitated cyberattacks, and the fact that the government’s own systems have been compromised by foreign countries, I believe the US will be safer with strong encryption than with weakened encryption.

Thank you for your consideration,

Mark Miller

Doing those four things will not take more than 10 minutes of your time and will ensure that your voice is heard. Yes, the emails are unlikely to be read by anyone who has voting power, but they do matter. Take 10 minutes today and make your voice heard!

You can subscribe to markdmill.com via RSSTumblr or by following MarkDMill on Twitter.

1. Thanks to Daniel Dilger at AppleInsider for these last three ideas. I copy them here, not to claim originality, but to reach my audience which differs from his.↩️

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