Encryption in everyday devices should be an industry-wide standard, but many world governments are still fiercely opposed to the idea. End-to-end encryption makes it possible to send messages that can only be read by the recipient, meaning both hackers and law enforcement are out of luck. According to a new report, senior U.S. officials are debating a possible encryption ban.
According to Politico, senior officials in the Trump administration met recently to discuss if the government should seek a ban on types of encryption that law enforcement can't break — effectively outlawing end-to-end encryption. One source told Politico, "the two paths were to either put out a statement or a general position on encryption, and [say] that they would continue to work on a solution, or to ask Congress for legislation."
Australia passed similar legislation last year, though the country doesn't outright ban end-to-end encryption. It only requires companies to hand over user data if it can be done without weakening encryption.
The U.S. federal government has fought tech companies for years of their use of encryption, and the Trump administration has stated on several occasions that it believes law enforcement should be given access to encrypted data. Before he was elected as President, Trump railed against Apple in early 2016 after it refused to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI later paid a security firm more than $1 million to break into the iPhone, using a flaw that Apple has since patched.
Rod Rosenstein, a Trump-nominated official at the Department of Justice (until he resigned in May), said in a speech in 2017, "Warrant-proof encryption defeats the constitutional balance by elevating privacy above public safety."
This isn't even the first time that Trump administration officials met behind closed doors to discuss laws against encryption. A meeting with security researchers occurred over a year ago, but no legislation came out of it.