At least according to the NSA.
In the war on privacy that worldwide governments have waged upon their citizens, it seems that the latter mostly seems to be losing. That is why it is so refreshing to hear the rise in concern about encryption being raised by governments to a new and ridiculous level. One of the most pathetic manifestations of trying to obscure the truth about the self-empowerment that encryption gives to the global citizen, came not so surprisingly from a top former NSA attorney.
This guy, named Stewart Baker, told an audience in Ireland last week that mobile phone maker Blackberry can blame a major drop in sales during the last few years on its offering of a secure product that can’t be cracked. Yes, you read correctly! Baker, an ex NSA, thinks that providing a secure, privacy oriented device is a cause for a business failure.
A big selling point for Blackberry, at least among those working with sensitive data, was the fact that the company’s propriety messaging program allowed users to securely communicate with one another over an encrypted protocol that for years provided security beyond what other cell companies offered consumers.
Yet while tech experts largely agree that the smart phone giant saw its demise in recent years result from unprecedented competition coming from the likes of devices like Apple’s iPhone and Android phones running Google’s innovative operating system — a decrescendo well documented by tech bloggers, without a doubt — Baker, the former general counsel at the National Security Agency, had a different explanation on at the Web Summit in Dublin.
"BlackBerry pioneered the same business model that Google and Apple are doing now. That has not ended well for BlackBerry," Baker told Guardian editor James Ball.
The techno-libertarian culture strikes back
As we already mentioned in this blog, Apple and Google’s desire to offer better encryption on their devices than before has already earned those companies that admiration of privacy advocates, but anything but praise from police and law enforcement officials that insist extra secure communication will kill authorities’ ability to eavesdrop in emergencies, like terrorism investigations.
According to recent remarks from Baker, efforts from Apple and Google to give customers ultimate privacy are misguided. “Tech companies are picking a big public fight with the NSA because it looks good, as opposed to changing the ability of government to get data,” he said.
“There’s a very comfortable techno-libertarian culture where you think you’re doing the right thing. But I’ve worked with these companies and as soon as they get a law enforcement request no matter how liberal or enlightened they think they are, sooner to later they find some crime that is so loathsome they will do anything to find that person and identify them so they can be punished.”
So what can we learn from this little story? Firstly, the distance that the NSA and similar will try to convince you, companies and the government that encryption is bad has just broken a new record of ludicrousy. Secondly, the NSA and alike are terrified from the idea of you having a secure encrypted device, because it simply leaves them dangling. And thirdly, even so called “do no evil” Tech companies will, with the first sign of government control, hand over your traffic to whoever is asking for it.
So how about simply not leaving anything to the mercy of eavesdroppers and their doers, and simply taking matters to your own hands? We happen to have a solution at hand.
What do you think about Bakers opinion?