Written by Nick Heer.

Unsettled Questions About Privacy and Law Enforcement

Meredith Whittaker of Signal, on that terrible New York Times op-ed:

[…] Those of us invested in defending privacy need to understand that this op-ed wasn’t written for people with expertise, and its purpose won’t be perturbed by expert rebuttal. We’re not the audience.

The op-ed works to create the appearance of a “debate” on more or less settled issues. This is a powerful function, bolstered by the NYT imprimatur, which allows it [to] serve as a “Potemkin citation” — a seemingly credible reference in support of bad privacy laws and platforms.

These issues may be largely settled as far as the law is concerned, but they are not without ongoing controversy. It is somewhat tangential but, in 2016, two polls about the then-current dispute between Apple and the FBI over a terrorist’s encrypted iPhone came to different results but only marginally. I think people actually come closer to Reid Blackman’s stance more than they do Whittaker’s. The one itty-bitty problem is that it is currently impossible to ensure respectable law enforcement can gain access to criminals’ encrypted files while the rest of us find our security and privacy uncompromised.