Government Access to Encrypted Communications vs Privacy Rights

Encrypted Communication, Should Law Enforcement Agencies Have Access?


securityHi Folks,

A new paper from a group of fourteen of the world’s most pre-eminent cryptographers and computer scientists has concluded that the American and British governments cannot demand special access to encrypted communication without putting the world’s most confidential data and critical Infrastructure in danger.

With security breaches and awareness of nation-state surveillance at an all-time high, and data moving online at unprecedented speeds, encryption has emerged as a major issue in the debate over privacy rights. Major technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google have been moving to protect more of their corporate and customer data through encryption with the revelations that the National Security Agency was siphoning off digital communications and hacking into corporate data centers.  The government insists that the encryption technologies will prevent them from effectively doing their jobs

The new paper, the first published report from this group since 1997 emphasizes that the stakes involved in encryption are much higher now than in 1997.  Back then we were concerned with electronic mail and facsimile communication.  Now we are looking at the technology used to lock financial institutions and medical data, communications over mobile devices, and other critical systems like pipelines, nuclear facilities, and the power grid, which are moving rapidly online.

The debate rages on with security specialists insisting that giving government agencies the “Keys ” to exceptional access to encrypted communication requires an extraordinary degree of trust  to keep them safe from hackers and criminals.  The proposals they have put forward for exceptional access so far are wrong in principle and unworkable in practice, according to leading security experts.  Such access will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation-states can attack the very individuals that law enforcement seeks to defend.

In my book, The Lion’s Den, the CIA grapples with trying to break into a communications network thought to be operating between terrorist cells and the thought-to-have-been assassinated head of  al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.  As the plot thickens and time grows shorter to gain critical information on bin Laden’s whereabouts, the agency has to resort to kidnapping, terror and torture of a prisoner to get the information it needs, when it could so easily have been avoided had they had special access to encrypted communication.

In the second book in the series, Beyond the Firewall, I will be further exploring the challenges law enforcement faces in its limited access to information as CIA Operative Ryan Jamieson goes head to head with an evil aristocrat who would use his own daughter to protect his criminal enterprises.

To get your copy of The Lion’s Den, go to or download to your electronic reader through your favorite ebook store.  Wait for the release of Behind the Firewall in January of 2016.

norma projct

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