William Barr’s Dangerous Plan to Break Encryption

Attorney General William Barr is urging tech companies to weaken end-to-end encryption services by creating digital backdoors that will grant law enforcement agencies access to all electronic communication. If Barr gets his way, your emails, text messages, computer files, phone calls — literally everything you do and say online — will be subject to government snooping. Even worse, these digital backdoors will end up making everyone less safe by creating exploits for bad actors and state-sponsored hackers.

Digital backdoors are dangerous. They were dangerous when the NSA tried — and failed — to implement a clipper chip in every computer in 1993. They were dangerous when the FBI tried — and failed — to force Apple to break encryption on iPhones in 2015. And they’re still dangerous today.

Attorney General William Barr has revived a decades-old plan to break encryption

Encryption, Explained

As our world increasingly relies on digital infrastructure, encryption becomes necessary to protect everything from personal communications and office printers to air traffic control systems and nuclear power plants. Creating digital backdoors into these systems might seem like a good way to ensure that law enforcement officials can gather evidence or prevent crimes from happening … until you realize that law enforcement officials won’t be the only ones using these backdoors.

Your Safety Is at Stake

Petya malware took advantage of exploits developed by the NSA

Bad actors already use our digital weapons against us. State-sponsored hackers routinely exploit printers, phones, and routers. Voting systems in 39 states were hacked ahead of the 2016 elections. Weaknesses in encryption services can persist for decades, creating security issues in devices and applications that haven’t even been invented yet.

We don’t need to make our society more vulnerable to hacking; we need stronger encryption to be widely adopted in order to protect everyone from sophisticated, 21st century attacks. That’s why Michael Hayden — a retired four-star general who served as Director of the NSA and Director of the CIA — publicly pushed back against Barr’s dangerous plan to undermine the safety of end-to-end encryption.

Barr talks big about safety, but his recommendations put us all at risk for years to come.

Your Liberty Is at Stake

T-Mobile executives promised that they would stop selling customer location data, but they did not stop

If the Attorney General is concerned that his proposed backdoors might be similarly exploited, he hasn’t mentioned it. In fact, Barr has made no comment regarding the legal conditions under which backdoors should be used, nor has he made recommendations on who should have access to these powerful surveillance tools, or what penalties should be enforced against those who would abuse their authority. Instead, he’s content to move fast and break things. But a broken democracy is hard to fix.

Backdoors Will Backfire


If criminals, drug cartels, and terrorist networks know that they can’t use commercially-available encryption services without being spied on, then they simply won’t use commercially-available encryption services. After all, it developing encryption algorithms requires only knowledge of math and coding. Breaking encryption for the public will simply force lawbreakers underground while putting the rest of us at risk to countless new threats.

Take Action Now

Congress has considered laws to prevent this sort of authoritarian overreach in the past, and we need them to stop this reckless power grab once and for all. We urge you to visit our website SaveSecurity.org and contact your lawmakers to demand that they save digital security from the Attorney General.

Visit SaveSecurity.org to contact your lawmakers in Congress in support of encryption

We believe there's hardly anything as important as ensuring that our shared future has freedom of expression and creativity at its core.

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