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MIT report: Government encryption access poses security risk

[JURIST] A group of leading computer scientists at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT [academic website] on Monday published a paper [text, PDF; press release] criticizing the US and UK governments for seeking the redesign of internet systems to allow governments to access information even if encrypted. The researchers claim that the governments' requirement of exceptional access to communications would cause several problems including making the internet less secure and increasing system complexity. The paper also highlights possible jurisdictional issues that may arise from the exceptional access systems, which they believe would lead to strict Internet regulation. The scientists warned:

This report's analysis of law enforcement demands for exceptional access to private communications and data shows that such access will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation-states can attack the very individuals law enforcement seeks to defend. The costs would be substantial, the damage to innovation severe, and the consequences to economic growth difficult to predict.

There has been much debate in the United States concerning Internet freedom [JURIST backgrounder], surveillance and net neutrality [JURIST backgrounder]. In June 2013, several US lawmakers called for a review [JURIST report] of the government's surveillance activity in light of reports revealing phone and Internet monitoring. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] adopted [JURIST report] Open Internet rules [press release, PDF] by a 3-2 vote in February. Later in April US Congressman Doug Collins [official website] introduced a resolution to block [JURIST report] net neutrality rules that were introduced by the FCC.

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