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App Information For Security Purposes

Obama proposes the use of messaging app backdoors for national safety

By Jesus Ramos
On February 11, 2015


Jesus Ramos - The Summa

President Barack Obama announced his support in response to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposing to ban messaging applications that do not allow a backdoor for government spying on Jan. 12, in light of terrorist attacks in Europe.

Cameron, at a campaign event in Nottingham, said he ensured that a “comprehensive piece of legislation” is drawn up “that does not allow terrorists a safe space to communicate with each other” if he is re-elected as Prime Minister, according to The Telegraph.

This opinion likely stems from a hope that the government having access to people’s private conversations will help prevent terrorist attacks from happening.

“Social media and the Internet is the primary way in which these terrorist organizations are communicating,” Obama said according to The Hill. “That’s not different from anybody else, but they’re good at it.”

Opinions regarding increased surveillance into the users’ activities of some applications under fire, such as Snapchat and Whatsapp, have surfaced across various forms of media.

According to Slate, Obama argued, “the laws that might have been designed for the traditional wiretap have to be updated,” because technology is a changing medium.

Henry Foust, an engineering professor, believes there should be a moral code to counter this potential breach of privacy.

"Privacy as your parents knew it does not exist anymore,” Foust said.

According to many cyber experts, granting access for government entities to private in app information is not a simple fix, claiming that once that backdoor is implemented, anybody with the proper skill could potentially get access to secure information.  

“Creating a backdoor in software is like creating a lock to which multiple people hold the keys,” said Slate journalist, Brian Duggan. “The more people who have a key, the higher the likelihood that one will get lost.”

With the recent iCloud celebrity phone hack last year, many still want tighter security on their personal information. Google and Apple responded to this demand by promising to strengthen encryption on their operating systems.

However, with the more recent Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and the name Edward Snoeden still fresh in our minds, officials such as Cameron and Obama appear to be re-evaluating.  

Diego Garcia, a freshman, said he does not find issue with the potential changes in policy, as long as the acts are “truly for the safety of the country.”

“To think the government doesn't already do something like that is really quite ignorant,” Garcia said. “And what type of information are they trying to get from the average American? Where they ate last weekend or whom they shared the holiday season with?"

The question for evaluation, is where does protection begin and privacy end?


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