It isn’t every day that civil libertarians and national security hawks agree on policy, but the encryption debate has created an unlikely alliance.
I have rarely (scratch that…never) found former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden an ally on civil liberties or privacy issues. But while Hayden made the rounds on cable news earlier today, I realized that maybe, on encryption, I might actually have a friend, or at least someone with whom I could work. Speaking on CNBC’s Squawkbox, Hayden explained his thoughts on the encryption debate thusly:
I understand the law-enforcement perspective, but here’s my bottom line. Even when you’re just looking at this through a security lens, that’s actually not the best resolution for American security. Put another way America is more secure — America is more safe — with unbreakable end-to-end encryption.
That’s a perfect summary of exactly why encryption is important. It isn’t a fight between privacy advocates and security hawks, but a realization that encryption is the only way to preserve the integrity of our security.
This brings us to the conflict between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the court order to compel the company to alter their operating system – to make an “FBiOS” that would enable law enforcement to access a particular iPhone connected to the San Bernardino terrorism attack.
Speaking today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Hayden gave Mika Brzezinski a nuanced perspective on the Apple situation. After giving a lukewarm defense of the government’s approach in the San Bernardino case, Hayden finished the segment by saying the FBI’s intention to compel Apple to create an FBiOS in other phones could undermine its argument that this is a unique scenario.
Hayden’s cynicism that the government’s attempt to establish a new precedent hits at the greater problem Cato scholar Julian Sanchez recently summarized in a Time column. Sanchez explains that Apple’s resistance to the court order is “a fight over the future of high-tech surveillance, the trust infrastructure undergirding the global software ecosystem and how far technology companies and software developers can be conscripted as unwilling suppliers of hacking tools for governments.”
If the court wins and can compel Apple to create this FBiOS, there will be a fundamental shift in the relationship between the federal government and the tech industry that would damage consumer confidence and security of the Internet.
Thanks Michael Hayden for making our case!