4 alternatives to encryption backdoors, but no silver bullet

Alternatives to backdoors in end-to-end encryption exist, but not all address privacy and security concerns, say experts at last week’s Enigma conference.

End-to-end encrypted communication has been a boon to security and privacy over the past 12 years since Apple, Signal, email providers, and other early adopters first started deploying the technology. At the same time, law enforcement authorities around the globe have pushed for technological solutions to pry open the chain of protected end-to-end encrypted content, arguing that the lack of visibility provides a haven for criminals, terrorists and child abusers to hatch their plans with impunity.

In 2016, Apple prevailed in a now-famous legal standoff with FBI Director James Comey to unlock an encrypted phone used by a mass shooter in San Bernardino, California. In 2019, Attorney General William Barr revived the so-called backdoor debate to advocate some means of breaking encryption to thwart those who distribute child sexual abuse material. Last month, the UK government kicked off a PR campaign to lay the groundwork for killing off end-to-end encryption ostensibly to crack down on child sex abusers.

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