Upholding the 4th amendment
Apple recently went to bat with the FBI to protect the privacy of one of its users. Although the user in question was the terrorist involved in the San Bernardino incident, Apple believed that the court order to unlock the phone was on a slippery slope of legal precedence. In New York alone, the NYPD has about 175 iPhones in their possession which they’d like to unlock.
The right to privacy has always been hotly debated here in the U.S. People with nothing to hide often believe that government data mining is okay when the government is exposing illegal activity. However, Americans have the right “to be secure in the persons, houses, papers, and effects” a quote from the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. So what’s a person or business to do?
WhatsApp offers encryption by default
The announcement by WhatsApp that it would encrypt data of its users came out around the same time as the fight between Apple and the FBI. WhatsApp has been working on the project for more than a year. The timing may have been a coincidence, but it does add to the debate of online privacy.
WhatsApp encrypts its user’s communications, and interestingly, the company will not hold the key to unlock the encryption. The government could produce a warrant signed by the highest court in the land, and WhatsApp could not comply with unlocking the communication between two people in the App.
In order for the chat to be completely secure, both users must have the most current version of software. This is being phased in, with transitional assistance through the app to help users understand the new technology and what it means.
Finding a balance of privacy
WhatsApp’s new features will allow people to conduct business, whether it’s illegal or legal, in a secure chat window.
People who need this type of privacy, like lawyers or doctors, may find new ways to communicate with clients to make things easier. On the flip side, terrorists and criminals will also have more ways to communicate plans without worrying about detection.
As with most technology, the courts and legislators are fumbling with rules and laws after the software has been released. No one wants to think about letting terrorists have the right to privacy to plan and carry out their attacks, but the government doesn’t always get it right. It’s going to be interesting to watch this fight over the next few decades to see which way it goes.
I don’t want to see any more attacks on our country, but on the other hand, I don’t want the government listening in on my phone calls or having the ability to read my chat messages. I have absolutely nothing to hide, but I have the right to privacy. Once the door is opened to allowing the government to decrypt our phones or computers, where does it end?