End To End Encryption

I’ve been trying to figure out what I think about a bunch of things that keep cropping up. Yesterday it was ad blocking. Today it is end to end encryption. This community is really helpful to me. It is like having another set of colleagues to bounce ideas off of. So thank you for that.

Tim Cook wrote a public letter to Apple’s customers yesterday explaining his position on the San Bernadino shooter case.

He correctly states that “This moment calls for public discussion” and so hopefully that’s what we are going to do. I’d like to see our Presidential candidates start talking more about this too. It is one of the single most important issues that our society faces in the coming years.

He goes on to say that:

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.

That is not an open and shut case to me.

Of course I’d like the contents of my iPhone to be out of reach of everyone other than me. But if that means the contents of the iPhones of child pornographers, sex slaverunners, narco gangsters, terrorists, and a host of other bad people are “none of our business” then that gives me pause.

I don’t think we can have it both ways. We have to choose one way or the other.

My partner Albert has written publicly on this issue and he comes out in favor of being public with our data and not going down a crypto “rat hole”. Here are some of his relevant posts on the topic:

Sept 2013

Jan 2014

Aug 2015

But many of the other folks at USV feel very differently and are more supportive of an end to end encryption world.

I lean in Albert’s direction. But I also see logic in the arguments that Tim Cook makes against opening up a back door to the iPhone.

So I am struggling with this issue this morning, and I imagine many others are too.

So let’s talk about it. What is your take on end to end encryption?