What is encryption and why is it controversial
Many of today’s messaging apps, are encrypted, which means that no one, other than the intended person, can view your messages. Even the company behind the app can’t access your messages, so they can’t turn them over to authorities, even if given a court order. That might seem like a way to avoid the law (yes, criminals do use encrypted apps) but it can be a lifesaving feature for human rights advocates and others who have an extremely compelling reason to keep their messages private. It also enables organizations and companies to increase their security when passing along information that could be misused by competitors or hackers.
Encryption is not without its critics. There are many in law enforcement and government agencies around the world who argue that it makes it harder to catch and prosecute terrorists, predators and other criminals. Encrypted apps have also been used by government officials to keep their messages confidential, sometimes in violation of federal recordkeeping laws. It can also create a false sense of security, because there may be ways around it if someone gets access to your device or password, and despite the encryption, there are ways that government officials may be able to get at least some of your information transmitted via encrypted apps. You can learn more about encryption, including pros and cons, at ConnectSafely.org/Encryption.