Trump administration weighs banning end-to-end encryption

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Encryption could be the next big conflict between Apple and the White House.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has banged heads with the Trump administration before, but its biggest clash could be yet to come.

According to a new report, senior White House officials met this week to discuss banning end-to-end encryption. This would affect a number of tech companies — including Apple, which has long touted its focus on user privacy.

As Politico notes:

“A decision to press for legislation would have far-reaching consequences for the privacy and security of tens of millions of consumers and effectively force companies such as Apple and Google to water down the security features on their smartphones and other devices.”

The rationale behind ending this sort of encryption is that it would allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access suspects’ data. However, some fear that eliminating end-to-end encryption could enable widespread spying on U.S. citizens.

A similar clash over privacy occurred a couple years back when Apple engaged in a standoff with the FBI over unlocking a dead terrorist’s iPhone.

Politico‘s report says not everyone is on the same page about this issue:

“DHS is internally divided. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency knows the importance of encrypting sensitive data, especially in critical infrastructure operations, but ICE and the Secret Service regularly run into encryption roadblocks during their investigations.”

A defender of encryption

Apple frequently speaks out on the subject of encryption. It plays a big part in Apple’s systems. It is also a key differentiator between Apple and some of its rivals. When similar legislation has been discussed overseas, Apple has spoken out against it.

Should the Trump administration continue to go down this path, it could cause a deepening rift between the White House and Silicon Valley. Currently, the biggest public issue (one of many) dividing Apple and the Trump administration is international trade and tariffs.

We’ll keep you posted on this story as more details develop in the coming weeks and months.