CIA director John Brennan this week claimed that the Paris terrorist attacks of November 2015 were due to the increased encryption available to terrorist organisations.
It goes without saying that the world condemns any terror attacks regardless of the country they are carried out in but history has shown that each time an atrocity takes place western governments are quick to ride the media frenzy and attempt to justify their own surveillance actions.
Contrary to information published back in November by news outlet The Intercept, CIA director John Brennan has blamed encrypted communications and stated they were at the heart of the Paris attacks. Brennan claims while authorities were aware of an imminent threat they were unable to thwart it due to the use of encryption.
The Intercept, on the other hand, reported that evidence suggested that the terror organisation responsible for the attack and other planned attacks in Belgium did not in fact use encryption and mobile phones recovered in both instances were fully unencrypted and accessible by the security services.
What is encryption?
Encryption allows users to communicate in a secure environment and keep details of those communications private from prying eyes, including world governments. After the 2013 revelations by former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden, the world became greatly more aware of what large governments including the US and the UK were doing in the world in terms of mass surveillance and snooping.
Due to these revelations tech companies took part in somewhat of a backlash introducing encryption by default such as the HTTPS secure search method of Google and the auto encryption of Apple mobile phone devices that are unable to be deciphered even by Apple themselves.
Many individual users chose to sign up for VPN services from companies such as IPVanish to encrypt their online activities, moved towards anonymous email use and use digital currencies like Bitcoin.
What good guys have, bad guys have.
While users aim to increase their privacy security services both in the US, UK and around the world are insistent that what is freely available for the ordinary user is now being used by terrorists to plot further attacks and is the reason why they need access to or a way to break such encryption.
In the recent interview where the CIA’s Brennan claimed that the Paris attackers made use of encryption, when questioned on privacy his response was to state that users complained about government surveillance yet still published personal details on social media about themselves or gave other sensitive information to sales reps of various companies.
While that is somewhat true perhaps it is up to the user to decide what they want to divulge and many take issue with the government automatically logging or delving into their private lives without knowledge of it happening or without approval.
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