Even before the victims of the Paris attacks had been moved from the scene or their bodies identified, members of the US national security state began speculating that encryption was likely part of the reason the terrorists were able to plot and execute their deadly mission without getting caught. Former CIA director Mike Morrell was one of the many people who advanced this theory.
“I think what we’re going to learn is that these guys are communicating via these encrypted apps, this commercial encryption which is very difficult or nearly impossible for governments to break, and the producers of which don’t produce the keys necessary for law enforcement to read the encrypted messages,” he said.
Well, Morrell and his fellow deep state power-pushers appear to be wrong. New reports indicate that the attackers actually used text messages to communicate—plain text text messages.
But does it even matter? The point the spooks are trying to make is that encryption is too dangerous for a free society to tolerate. If bad guys use it to hurt us, it means law enforcement should be able to break encryption technology that billions of people on earth use to securely transfer money, communicate, and share sensitive data.
That’s absurd. Encryption is a tool. Like many tools, it can be used by people who have good motivations or bad ones. Every security specialist worth her salt says that weakening encryption, or installing “backdoors” for cops and spies, would actually put people at greater security risk. That’s because encryption is a security technology.