What you need to know

  • The Trump administration has held talks about possibly passing legislation to outlaw end-to-end encyrption.
  • They argue that the number one priority for the DOJ and FBI is to stop criminals and terrorists.
  • Besides Apple's Messages and FaceTime, this would also affect WhatsApp and Signal.

Senior Trump officials have discussed the possibility of passing new legislation that could make it illegal for companies like Apple to offer end-to-end encryption through its services, according to a new report from Politico.

Here's what Eric Geller of Politico had to say:

Senior Trump administration officials met on Wednesday to discuss whether to seek legislation prohibiting tech companies from using forms of encryption that law enforcement can't break — a provocative step that would reopen a long-running feud between federal authorities and Silicon Valley.

The encryption challenge, which the government calls "going dark," was the focus of a National Security Council meeting Wednesday morning that included the No. 2 officials from several key agencies, according to three people familiar with the matter.

End-to-end encryption has been a big selling point for companies Apple that tout privacy. But as the piece suggested, if the Trump administration seeks to challenge this, it could start another battle between the government and Silicon Valley, which have butted heads continually over the past few years.

The government argues that this would make it easier to tackle things like terrorism.

A ban on end-to-end-encryption would make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agents to access suspects' data. But such a measure would also make it easier for hackers and spies to steal Americans' private data, by creating loopholes in encryption that are designed for the government but accessible to anyone who reverse-engineers them. Watering down encryption would also endanger people who rely on scrambled communications to hide from stalkers and abusive ex-spouses.

The Department of Justice and FBI continue to argue that stopping criminals and terrorists is the main priority. But again, this opens up a can of worms for the privacy of regular people who otherwise are powerless to the overreach of the government.