Say you invented something that became so popular more than a billion people across the planet used it. You’d be famous worldwide and one of the richest people on earth!
But then, say, you discovered some of your customers were criminals using your product in nefarious ways. Terrorists were using it to communicate deadly plots amongst themselves. Con-men using it to scam millions from unsuspecting and vulnerable people. Child predators using your invention to transmit horrific child pornography. What would your obligation be if law enforcement came knocking at your door asking to see information about your suspect customers?
This scenario is playing out between the U.S. Department of Justice and Facebook’s massively popular subsidiary, WhatsApp. The developers brag that the app enables customers to “make calls and send and receive messages, documents, photos and videos” directly from their phone or desktop computer that will remain strictly secret. It is advertised as having “sought-after services like end-to-end encryption, free internet-based international calling, cross-platform compatibility, (and) wide global reach.”
In layman’s terms encryption means all communications, sent from next door or around the world, can be seen only by the sender and the receiver. There is no so-called “back door” for law enforcement to enter to look for evidence of criminal wrongdoings.