The newspaper has reported that the Justice Department is weighing how to move forward with an ongoing investigation that has run into trouble because of the service’s encryption. A federal judge had okayed a wiretap order during the course of the investigation, but because the communications being tapped is encrypted, they can’t see what’s being said.
The department hasn’t decided how to proceed with the case. There are some that are advocating that they push ahead much like they’ve done with Apple: go to court and attempt to force the company to provide them with access to the information, while others are looking to hold off.
This is not going to go away, and it has profound impacts on where mobile and cloud technology will go from here. If the government gets its way, people and companies currently storing and sharing data across encrypted services will no longer be able to depend upon the data being safe from prying eyes, as the services themselves will have the means to access it directly. (If the government requires them to access and turn it over, they would have to leave it open to at least themselves in order to comply with potential court orders, as well as anyone else who figures out how to access the back door.) It will not be protected from the service storing it.
The interesting thing is that, if the companies are required to build in back doors to encrypted data, would using those services then violate current privacy laws like HIPAA?
This move by the government could literally cripple cloud services as viable business solutions, and then where will we be?