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Written By Richard Blech Forbes Council Member Forbes Technology Council Community Voice

On July 23rd, 2019, U.S. Attorney General William Barr delivered a keynote address at the International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University. The speech was less about ensuring that Americans can safely navigate cyberspace and far more about the evils of strong encryption.

Almost as soon as the opening platitudes were spoken, Barr launched an attack on the availability of encryption technology, stating: “While we should not hesitate to deploy encryption to protect ourselves from cybercriminals, this should not be done in a way that eviscerates society’s ability to defend itself against other types of criminal threats …While encryption protects against cyberattacks, deploying it in warrant-proof form jeopardizes public safety more generally. The net effect is to reduce the overall security of society.” The Niskanen Center (a nonpartisan think tank that works to promote an open society) described encryption’s criticality as follows: “The internet is the life blood of the modern digital economy; encryption protocols are the white blood cells. The health of the Internet ecosystem depends on the proliferation of strong encryption.” Given strong encryption’s centrality to the economic engine that powers American prosperity, influence and global stability, the attorney general’s remarks are both troubling and surprising.

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