Computer Science

What do you think? Think of the private information on your smartphone—your texts, contact lists, and emails. If someone has your phone and can log in to it, could they read your information? Not if it were encrypted. Encryption takes the data stored on your device and changes it using a secret key. When you log in to an encrypted phone, it automatically unencrypts the data for you to read. Without the encryption key, the data is just garbled nonsense. And if your phone is stolen, even without the means to login, the new “owner” could still get information off of it. They could plug the SD card into a computer or could use software to read the data stored on the phone memory. But not if your   Operating System encrypted it. Almost all modern smartphones offer encryption. However, tech companies have faced legal action from government agencies when, for example, the FBI wants to break into the phone of a suspect to look for evidence of crime. Law enforcement wants tech companies to work on a way to defeat the encryption installed in the device or to add a “backdoor” that would allow the companies to defeat the encryption any time they are asked to. The debate over how much privacy you should expect is an important one. Question Q1: We need to balance the privacy rights of individuals against the need for security. Which position should tech companies take? Produce products that support full encryption that can’t be broken by anyone – even the tech company Produce products that support encryption but enable the tech company to defeat it if asked to by authorities Produce products that do not support encryption so that law enforcement can access the data.

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