At a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, US lawmakers recently reiterated their call for technology companies to include “backdoors” in their encrypted applications. The chairman of the committee, Lindsey Graham, warned that if companies didn’t do it voluntarily, they would be forced.
However, representatives of leading technology companies, including Apple and Facebook, argued that there was no way to add such “back doors” without leaving vulnerabilities in the software.
The legislator’s accusation is that encrypted communication channels such as Whatsapp or Apple’s iMessage can be used for criminal purposes.
The reasoning is correct – but still absurd. Encrypted messengers are just one of many tools that terrorists or other criminals use. As mentioned in the tweet above: 1.5 billion users worldwide use WhatsApp. It is clearly not just terrorists who value privacy.
Unfortunately, the pressure on developers of encrypted messaging products is not a good precedent for the cryptocurrency industry. The same reasons that “back doors” are required in such applications are also those that are often used to attack the crypto industry.
Cryptocurrencies as instruments for terrorist financing are a particular favorite. Various legislators have expressed such views in recent months. Rep. Brad Sherman, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and even President Donald Trump. Everyone is using digital currencies because terrorists may want to use them.
However, it’s pretty revealing that lawmakers are tracking encrypted apps instead of cryptocurrencies. It is relatively easy to get Apple or Facebook to bow to the will of a government. With decentralized digital assets, there is no company that can be punished.
Many cryptocurrency advocates argue that the decentralized nature of public blockchain networks makes it impossible to effectively control them. Any effort in this regard would surely fail – except perhaps coordinated international action against the industry.
So the government is hostile to cryptocurrencies, but does nothing – can it be that the U.S. government is aware of its powerlessness against Bitcoin?