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Encryption Technology: Helping You or Helping ISIS?

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The FBI says that strong encryption creates places online for ISIS and other terrorist groups to fester and grow. Privacy advocates say it's dangerous to allow the government to snoop on all our communications.

The FBI Director of Counterterrorism, Michael Steinbach, feels that strong encryption allows terrorists and other state enemies to have a "free zone" where they can carry out terrorist activities such as recruit people to their cause, further radicalize them and plan attacks in a place where they can't be kept tabs on.  He wants procedures put in place to allow counterterrorism forces to access otherwise encrypted information.

James Comey, director of the FBI, has gone so far as to complain that companies like Apple and Facebook, which have been adding more encryption to their technologies, are aiding our enemies

Even world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, have been critics.  Obama has said the US needs to be able to track communications when needed, but that such powers should comply with due process.  Cameron has proposed outlawing encryption technology entirely.

Communication companies, on the other hand, have been more eager to encrypt the data sent over their networks since Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was snooping on average Americans.

WhatsApp, a popular chat application, uses end-to-end encryption, so they are unable to view the data sent using the app even if they wanted to.

Apple has been a big proponent of encryption technology.  Last year's iOS release upset many in law enforcement.  Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, chided law enforcement agencies for requesting backdoors to allow them to snoop on iPhone users whenever they wanted, arguing that if a cop can use the key, so can a crook.  There's something to his words too, as recent hacks were found to have come from backdoors the US had computer manufacturers build into computers as far back as the 1990's.

Whichever side you agree with, one certain thing is that the fight is far from over.  Technology keeps changing and both the "good guys" and the "bad guys" keep finding ways to one-up each other.