The messaging service WhatsApp has run into problems with the Brazilian government for failing to turn over data relating to a criminal investigation. With over one billion users, the wildly popular app features a major benefit that many governments disapprove of: it encrypts all messages sent through the app.
This is only the most recent example of government pushback over encryption, coming not long after the FBI dropped its attempt to make Apple provide a backdoor to an iPhone as part of an investigation.
Cases like this highlight the tension between government data gathering and citizens’ right to privacy, and raise new questions such as:
- How far do privacy rights extend?
- Should people be allowed to encrypt their communications, and should companies which encrypt communications be required to give the government access to those messages?
The debates surrounding this are just beginning and will only evolve even more as technology advances. For a related debate on privacy and government surveillance, check out video below, which features a full debate on NSA surveillance.