Reflare Weekly Security Briefing 2016-04 - Security in Politics
The 2016 US election has brought numerous proposals to the table. What makes this year different from previous elections is that security and technology are being used as voter weapons. Security and cryptography are especially in the limelight since the Paris attacks.
A bill (AB 1681) introduced by Jim Cooper wants to limit the use of smartphones with unbreakable cryptography. Instead of using terrorism as a reason for the law, the bill points to human trafficking as the main concern. The bill proposes to abolish the use of cryptography that cannot be decrypted by the smartphoneâ€™s manufacturer or operating system provider. Currently, manufacturers such as Apple and Google do not have the ability to decrypt any encrypted messages stored on a device.
The bill sets a trend in using technology for gain in the political arena. With security concerns on the rise, technology is being used as a tool to gain a political foothold on voter interests. Security has slowly become an ethical topic used to sway votes between political parties. For instance, take the Hillary Clinton email incident. The incident became priority news as each party used technology as a way to create doubt and suspicion in votersâ€™ minds.
Security is a concept that most people do not understand, but they have strong views on the subject. Bill AB 1681 is not expected to pass, but it is a stepping stone for future proposals. Some politicians use terrorism as a way to sway voters, but cryptography is common in any communication whether it is someone selling fake iPhone cases, people selling drugs, tax evaders, and other morally wrong activities. Of course it is also used for all kinds of moral and legal purposes. The application is independent of the technology. It can be used for good or bad purposes.
What makes this bill interesting in a global market is that the US are trendsetters in lawmaking. If a bill passes, outlawing unbreakable smartphone cryptography, it is very likely that other countries will follow in their footsteps.
Cryptography can be a scary concept for voters who do not understand its benefits. Politicians often use topics such as technology to sway voters using scare tactics such as terrorism, human trafficking, drug smuggling and other highly criminal activity. However, disallowing encrypted data on smartphone devices puts a huge dent in privacy protection.