How Important is the Encryption Debate?

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How Important is the Encryption Debate? The encryption debate is intense and heated in certain circles, but is of no major concern to the vast majority of people in the United States. Most of the people I talk to regard its regulation to be of little consequence, or too complicated to take a position on. Indeed, the prevailing opinion I encounter is that is an area best left to the experts who understand its capabilities, uses and dangers. While no one really trusts the government, in the face of the sundry bogeymen evoked by law enforcement agents as a rationale for protecting the people, most people are hard pressed to stand up and speak of the inviolability of their privacy rights. How can I justify my concerns over personal privacy when faced with the specters of kidnappers, terrorists and drug lords? Why get worked up about it if you have nothing to hide anyway? Why insist to uphold seemingly inconsequential principles in the face of national security concerns? The reason is that the principles fostering this heated debate are some of the core principles that formed our nation. This nation was created by the will of revolutionaries who challenged the principles of government (or lack thereof) that was imposed upon the colonies. After fighting a bloody war to secure independence, the colonies were forged into a nation of states upon federalist principles. It was a government of limited powers and sovereignties that bore the stamp of the framers distrust of an over-centralized government. The Bill of Rights was added to further confirm those federalist principles and to ensure the rights of the people before their government. These rights are the cornerstones upon which the United States was built and has flourished. ... ... middle of paper ... ...affic analysis that could be even more significant than census information. Where are the people going next? This is how the Government stays one step ahead, instead of trying to shape policy through polling us, it notes our patterns of choices and plans accordingly. What does free market encryption really give us in response? The power to communicate as freely as we did before technological advances undermined those abilities. The Fourth Amendment was designed to be a limitation on the power of government to intrude on the privacy of its citizens, not a grant of privilege to law enforcement. Much as the framers of the Constitution expected to be free from surveillance in their papers and communications, the power of encryption can help regain the balance. And once it does, maybe we will realize that we had more in common with Paine and Jefferson than we think.

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