This piece was originally published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Encryption is like a baby. It comes with problems, but you wouldn’t solve them with blunt force. If your baby is crying, or your baby is messy, you wouldn’t cut your baby in half (that is, if you’re not a psychopath). You can either protect and raise your baby in its full form or you don’t have one.
The same applies to encryption today. Your devices either maintain their end–to-end encryption or they don’t. You have no safe way of building “end-to-half” encryption, chopping off an arm or a leg or two, of making exceptions for government authorities while guaranteeing your private data is safe from prying eyes.
All this year, U.S. leaders have attempted to pass a wave of misguided online security bills, designed to break that encryption and place Americans in a panopticon of surveillance by default. Lawmakers have embarked on the unadvisable mission of cutting the encryption baby in half. They are demanding one set of legal exceptions that would allow the police to enter your digital home through the backdoor, all while preserving the iron front gates of encryption for everyone else.