I want to start upfront: I do not want to take a position here. I have an opinion as a person in my cultural context but I understand that this opinion is by far not the only one which is right or wrong.
This morning I read this article: FBI Drive for Encryption Backdoors Is Déjà Vu for Security Experts. This is definitely not new and we had it before. If there is a backdoor in encryption for the good guys, there will be one for the bad guys as well. However, if something bad happens to you and you want the criminals to be arrested, you will want the police to have the right means available to track the criminal down and send him/her to prison if necessary. This is kind of a dilemma.
I was once having a discussion with a former police man who said: “We can deliver an almost crime-free society – if we are willing to give up all our privacy.” And the idea is fairly simple: If a crime happens and we could immediately see who did it, the risk of committing the crime is so high, that you probably would think about it more than twice. But this is not what we want. I want my privacy – but where is the right balance? This is a discussion which is fairly old and a discussion which has to be re-visited over time and a discussion which will yield to different results in in different cultures: the US (see the laws after 9/11), in Europe, in the Middle East, in Africa or in Asia – and this is good.
So we have to understand how much privacy we are willing to give up to help the policy to combat child porn, hacking, and other illegal activities on the Internet. It will be interesting to see, where the discussion leads in the US as well as in other countries.
Finally, I am convinced that backdoors in crypto do not help to solve the problem: You will catch the stupid criminal anyway in one way or another without backdoor. The smart one will use a software to encrypt without backdoor and then the whole requirement does not help anymore…