Re: American prosecutor / Lebanese coder?
The mathematics of encryption is a pure, mostly black and white science, whereas public policy, safety, the social contract and regulations are not.
For all its dangers, IS is not a credible military threat to the West in the same way as the Kaiser, Wehrmacht, Japan and the Red Army were at various points in history. In fact, for the time being, IS is more of a growing annoyance in pure military terms. They could be virtually eliminated with a full-blown, concerted military campaign in Syria and full shakedown of their local networks (which is slowly happening). If things get any worse, carving up Syria "a la Berlin" by the Russians, French, Brits and Americans is a more likely and effective outcome than global weakening of encryption.
Like travel advisories and other security theatre, the "badness of encryption" is basically more noise generated by opportunistic politicians with access to free speech, news media coverage and faulty (or deliberately misunderstood) technology advice. It cranks up the overall level of public anxiety and gives terr groups the validity and relevancy they crave. As a selective bonus, it provides corrupt elites with a chance to impose more draconian measures in the name of "security".
The terrs know this too. They would love to see Western democracies continue to shoot themselves in the feet with misguided, reactive, ineffective legislation and contradictory policy that eventually pisses off 99.9% of an already weary public. So far, they seem to be winning on that front. Since one of the stated objectives of IS is to breakdown Western democracy and impose Sharia law everywhere, it's a pretty good active/passive aggression strategy. Divide and conquer works both ways.
Broken encryption is effectively no encryption at all. It will result in infinitely more danger and harm than that caused by brainwashed lunatics occasionally willing to die for their cause. The ability to read everyone's secrets, emails and contact lists will not prevent these atrocities from happening. Instead, it will cripple the digital economy and send already spiraling cyber crime rates out of control. Anyone advocating the banning or weakening of encryption is either technologically ignorant or malicious.
When encryption is illegal (or weakened) only criminals will have (strong) encryption. Since we don't live in a completely safe world and never will, it just doesn't compute. I don't want unsafe encryption that allows criminals to break into my paypal account, steal my company's commercial secrets or my passwords. I want encryption so strong that no one can break into my PayPal account (including me when I forget my password). If the powers that be need to look into my account, there are laws for that (and warrants) where I would be compelled to let them. If they can't break into my account (because I am dead, non compos mentis, or whatever) that means the evidence is effectively destroyed, which also used to happen before technology became so ubiquitous.
The fundamental issue here is one of trust. Citizens in "free" democracies no longer trust their leaders to do the right thing, which is the real problem. Companies have responded to their customer's concerns and deployed unbroken encryption in response. Now most of us continue to believe we can choose what to say and think. The next step should be to vote in some competent leaders.
And as pointed out in the article, citizens in not-so-free societies also use tools like encryption to protect themselves from government repression or worse.
On the other hand, brainwashed murderers continue to use clear text messages, machine guns and explosives to kill innocent people. Strong encryption probably just slows them down. The terrs actions say it all. They want to be SEEN and NOTICED. This way they can gain attention and widely broadcast their perverted message, not hide their actions. They probably say a prayer every night that the 10 o'clock news will continue its assistance in terrorizing the public.
Democratic societies have continued to function under even the most dire conditions without full police powers and the complete suspension of civil liberties. In past states of war, some fundamental civil rights were repressed, even suspended. But overall, no one ever really expected it to become a permanent state of affairs. "Temporary" technology workarounds have a very nasty habit of becoming permanent, which is why no sane tech company wants to implement back-doors into its security products.
And personally, I fail to see how the current situation can even compare with the existential threats experienced during two previous World Wars where similar actions were taken.
And now, "free" democratic powers are looking for the same power over their citizens as "not-so-free" governments. Does anyone see the issue here? Our remaining democratic leaders really need to think this through. We really need to help them by continuing to speak up.