Global Consumers Reject Government-Mandated Encryption Backdoors

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Global consumers overwhelmingly reject government arguments that encryption backdoors will make them safer from terrorists, according to new research from Venafi.

The security vendor polled over 4100 consumers in the US, UK, France and Germany to better understand their attitudes to government and social media when it comes to data protection.

Law enforcers and governments on both sides of the Atlantic have consistently argued that encrypted services and devices provide a safe space for terrorists and criminals to operate.

In July, US attorney general, William Barr, added his voice to the calls for government-mandated backdoor access to such data in specific circumstances, saying it “can and must be done.”

However, 64% of respondents told Venafi that they don’t believe government access to private data would make society any safer from terrorists. In fact, just 30% said they thought governments can be trusted to protect their personal data, falling to 24% in the US and climbing slightly (to 40%) in the UK.

“Many politicians and law enforcement officials wish to use surveillance tools and backdoors that most consumers associate with authoritarian regimes, not democracies,” argued Venafi VP of security strategy and threat intelligence, Kevin Bocek.

“If we can’t trust governments to protect sensitive personal data, it’s difficult to imagine how they will be able to regulate the private sector effectively.”

The poll’s respondents are joined by IT security professionals and cryptography experts in their views on mandated backdoors.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of IT security pros told Venafi in March that laws effectively forcing tech companies to insert backdoors in their products would make their nation less secure.

As if that weren’t enough, a group of world-leading cryptography experts last year backed senator Ron Wyden’s demands that the FBI explain the technical basis for its claim that backdoors can be engineered without impacting user security. The Bureau has so far chosen not to respond.

The Venafi poll also revealed that, perhaps unsurprisingly, just 22% of consumers believe social media companies can be trusted to protect their personal and private data.

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