Google And Facebook To Reportedly Bolster Encryption Efforts In Face Of Increased Government Intrusion
The very public (and heated) battle between the FBI and Apple over encryption has spilled out into the public and factions are beginning to take sides. The battle lines are clearly drawn with public opinion largely split and tech giants lining up to support Apple’s decision to not “hand over the [encryption] keys” the FBI.
Given this very public spotlight on encryption, a new report claims that Google and Facebook are making efforts to further increase their encryption levels to protect user data and keep it out of the hands of nefarious parties and even law enforcement agencies. For its part, Google is reportedly showing a renewed interest in its End to End encrypted email platform. First announced back in 2014, End to End has moved at a glacial pace and “has been an ongoing effort” for Google according to at least one person familiar with the project.
Complicating matters is the fact that Google makes the bulk of its money via advertising, and advanced encryption makes it harder for the company to scan users emails in an effort to target them with ads. “There are lots of difficulties at Google that aren’t same at Apple,” says a source for The Guardian. “The business models are just different.”
As for Facebook, it’s embracing encryption with a two-pronged strategy. The social media giant will first work to enhance security in its own Messenger app. The second strategy is to add encryption to its wildly popular WhatsApp messaging service. WhatsApp is said to be adopting encryption code developed by privacy expert Moxie Marlinspike. If you may recall, Marlinspike is behind the popular encrypted messaging app Signal.
Efforts to increase security through encryption make your personal data safer from prying eyes, but law enforcement officials see it as an affront to their policing efforts. The U.S. Government has also played up the domestic terrorism angle as a reason to tamp down the use of encryption — hence the fight over unlocking the iPhone 5c tied to the San Bernardino mass shooting.
The fight over encryption is far from over, and tech companies are in a virtual arms race to see who can provide the most secure platform for customers. Law enforcement may be fuming at such prospects, but depending on the outcome of Apple’s upcoming legal fight, only legislation from Congress may be enough to stop the encryption movement.