But we discovered something. Our one hope against total domination. A hope that with courage, insight and solidarity we could use to resist. A strange property of the physical universe that we live in.
The universe believes in encryption.
It is easier to encrypt information than it is to decrypt it.
If your algorithm doesn’t allow a pedophile to irreversibly scramble his drive and avoid prosecution, it can’t be used by freethinkers under ideological oppression to hide state-banned books. If your messaging app won’t let someone safely plan bombing the Super Bowl, it can’t be used by an activist to reveal human rights abuses. If your map doesn’t let poachers stalk rhinos without alerting rangers, it can’t be used by ethnic minorities to escape purges.
Some crimes can also be aided by whispered in-person conversation. Should we require all in-person conversation to be shouted near a government office?
The societal default used to be that substantially all conversations were inaccessible to the government except through testimony. Encryption does nothing to change the availability of information through testimony.
Previously, remote conspirators could collaborate through the post, and their conversations could only be accessed with a warrant specifically targeting those communicators. End-to-end encryption does little to change the availability of information in a targeted investigation; it just means it's a little more difficult to access the information than entering a phone number into XKeyscore. Investigators can install malware on the device, or microphones and video cameras in the suspect's home to hear or see what is being communicated.
Forbidding end-to-end encryption, in combination with our mass surveillance apparatus, changes the societal default to be that substantially all conversations are trivially and automatically accessible to the government.