The Crypto-Wars 2.0 erupted a few years ago as fall-out from the Snowden revelations and major industry players such as Apple and Google rushed out new encryption technologies for their customers. In the interim, use of an encrypted iPhone by the attacker in the San Bernandino terrorist incident alarmed many law enforcement and intelligence officials to the “going dark” problem — the loss of ability to intercept criminal and terrorist communications — with the FBI making a very public push for exceptions or technological back-doors. Industry and civil liberties groups made an equally strong and strident push back on such exceptions citing impracticality, unintended consequences, greater insecurity, fundamental legal objections, economic loss and wide-scale privacy violations.
A new report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine attempts to lower the heat on the crypto wars by reviewing the available (and often very difficult) policy options and discussing the tough tradeoffs associated with each. The report does not make a hard and fast judgement as to whether to grant law enforcement access to encrypted, private information. Rather it concludes with a framework that the authors hope will guide discussion among the public and policymakers.