Encryption Policy in the Modern Age: A Not So Simple Debate

"Jennifer Granick, director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, explained that separating the needs of law enforcement from the public’s rights under the Constitution is not as simple as it might seem. She calls this policy battle the third “crypto war.”

“Particularly after the Snowden revelations, there was a really concerted effort to encrypt more information to keep it secure …,” she said. “But this increased push for encryption has created a policy conflict, and the policy conflict is between the knowledge that encryption can secure information with the knowledge that encryption can interfere with legitimate law enforcement investigations.”
From the legal perspective, Riana Pfefferkorn, a Stanford cryptography fellow, explained that efforts to gauge court transparency related to encrypted devices have not been without their own barriers. Though judges must review and approve digital hunting expeditions on the part of law enforcement, active cases are not part of the public record, and sealed cases may never see the light of day.
Pfefferkorn said several Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed to not only learn more about “what the government is up to,” but also learn more about the context of the cases and how law enforcement agencies are going about the data retrieval process. Despite significant work to obtain this information, she said the process has been a slow one."