RE “Dan Conley warns Congress over Apple, Google encryption” (April 29): Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley’s call for a ban on digital devices with encryption that law enforcement can’t break is dangerously misguided. Just as with physical locks, weak digital locks put us at risk because online predators can pick them just as easily as the police.
If Apple and Google weaken their encryption for law enforcement, they’d be undermining the protections that keep foreign governments from spying on a Cabinet member’s smartphone, or cybercriminals from stealing health records from a doctor’s iPad.
For all of Conley’s fearmongering, I know of no law-enforcement official who has ever pointed to a case where encryption has derailed a criminal investigation. Perhaps this is because we live in a golden age of surveillance, where our cellphones track our movements and our online activities leave a trail of digital crumbs. Weakening encryption might make life marginally easier for the police, but it sure won’t make any of us safer.
The writer is a clinical instructor in the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School.