There are two conflicting forces battling it out on our national stage:
Law enforcement agencies are unhappy about people being able to hide data. They are arguing that encryption systems should have a "back door" so that the cops can read anything they need to read. Security experts point out that the mere existence of a "back door" will make all encryption far less secure even if the bad guys don't hack into the government's computer and steal all the passwords.
Let's ponder recent government performance to see if it would be reasonable to trust the government with everybody's passwords.
The New York Times reports that FBI mistakes led to serious consequences:
The man accused of killing nine people in a historically black church in South Carolina last month was able to buy the gun used in the attack because of a breakdown in the federal gun background check system, the F.B.I. said Friday.
With respect to protecting sensitive data, the Times said:
Katherine Archuleta, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, resigned under pressure on Friday, one day after the government revealed that two sweeping cyberintrusions at the agency had resulted in the theft of the personal information of more than 22 million people, including those who had applied for sensitive security clearances.
On the same day, the Times reported that a man who murdered a tourist shouldn't have been released:
The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been deported five times and spent 17 years in American jails when he was released by the San Francisco sheriff's office. Federal immigration officials had asked to be notified of his release.
San Fransisco is a so-called "Sanctuary City" where police are forbidden to cooperate with Homeland Security in dealing with illegals when law enforcement doesn't know about any other issues with the person. One would think that the Sheriff's office would have known that this person had spent time in jail, but no, they let him go.
This felon didn't have to rely on an FBI mess-up to buy a gun, he stole one from a federal agent's car.
Our government can't share data when it should, it can't protect important property, and it can't keep secure data secure. I wouldn't trust them with the password to my gym locker, to say nothing of the rest of my private data., but can we trust the government in other areas?
The government can't even cope competently with matters of health. 60 years ago, my parents trusted our government enough to enroll me in Dr. Salk's tests of the new polio vaccine. I got badly sick from the shot, but I didn't get polio. Now, many young parents tell me they don't believe what the government says about health.
I can't blame my friends for not trusting anything the government says about health. I most assuredly don't trust our government to handle my data properly.
How soon do you think ordinary people are going to want to start using encryption for their phone calls and emails?
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.