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Mandating Insecurity by Requiring Government Access to All Data and Communications

Authors: Abelson, Harold and Anderson, Ross and Bellovin, Steven M and Benaloh, Josh and Blaze, Matt and Diffie, Whitfield and Gilmore, John and Green, Matthew and Landau, Susan and Neumann, Peter G and Rivest, Ronald L and Schiller, Jeffrey I and Schneier, Bruce and Specter, Michael and Weitzner, Daniel J

Published: July 2015

Tags: 2010s Backdoors Keys

Abstract: Twenty years ago, law enforcement organizations lobbied to require data and communication services to engineer their products to guarantee law enforcement access to all data. After lengthy debate and vigorous predictions of enforcement channels “going dark,” these attempts to regulate the emerging Internet were abandoned. In the intervening years, innovation on the Internet flourished, and law enforcement agencies found new and more effective means of accessing vastly larger quantities of data. Today we are again hearing calls for regulation to mandate the provision of exceptional access mechanisms. In this report, a group of computer scientists and security experts, many of whom participated in a 1997 study of these same topics, has convened to explore the likely effects of imposing extraordinary access mandates.