In the U.S., privacy and security are often framed as competing values. This tension increased after Edward Snowden leaked documents in June 2013 that revealed the NSA’s surveillance of U.S. Citizens communications, triggering a debate around the trade-off between privacy and security. Three years later this debate is as important as ever, as the focus turns to encryption.
The national encryption debate broke out when Apple challenged a federal court order to help the FBI unlock one of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, citing it as key evidence in the investigation. Apple and other opponents of the court order argued that building a security bypass for the phone, would be the equivalent of a backdoor. While the Apple vs FBI and the Snowden leaks present different issues, the underlying debate around privacy vs security and finding a “balance” to allow both values to coexist.
So, Is there room for both privacy and security in the internet’s future? This question will be at the heart of this debate, as opposing forces increase the tension. On one hand, encryption is becoming more accessible with service like WhatsApp turning on encryption by default in April 2016 and Apple announcing a new file system with native encryption at WWDC 2016 in June. On the other, there is the threat of terrorism and the “Going Dark” problem. Public opinion on these issues has long been divided, with major events shifting the balance one way or another.
How this debate translates into legal standards and norms, will be a critical factor in the role of privacy and security in the future of the internet. In the wake of several high profile cases involving encryption, we have seen several pieces of controversial legislation proposed, such as the Burr-Feinstein bill. It is not likely to be introduced due to lack of support, but it is certain that more encryption related legislation will be proposed in the future and this debate will continue to center on the balance of privacy and security.
Join us at IGF-USA 2016 on July 14 to learn more and join in the discussion as the panel discusses several proposals currently before Congress, getting into the specifics of our values translating into legal norms, while reflecting and protecting core U.S. values, such as those held in the Bill of Rights. It will also look to analyze the discussion from a global perspective.
Panel name: Is there room for both privacy and security in the internet’s’ future?
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