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September 25, 2016 Home Page

Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton’s campaign team announced that they have adopted end-to-end encryption. Following controversies surrounding Clinton’s use of personal email while in office, coupled with the revelation last month that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked by a Russian group, a very public demonstration of data security was essential. Clinton’s endorsement of encryption, however, represents a breakthrough. Government and law enforcement agencies have been loudly critical of end-to-end encryption over the past year- culminating in the very public showdown between Apple and the FBI. A former Secretary of State and ‘Washington Insider’ is choosing to highlight their own provision indicating a shifting tide.

Indeed, the take-up of this service by the Democratic nominee follows the publication of her Initiative on Technology & Innovation position paper in June, which stated:

“She supports Senator Mark Warner and Representative Mike McCaul’s idea for a national commission on digital security and encryption.  This commission will work with the technology and public safety communities to address the needs of law enforcement, protect the privacy and security of all Americans that use technology, assess how innovation might point to new policy approaches, and advance our larger national security and global competitiveness interests.”[2]

At first glance, this appears as mere political balancing. However, it was a subtle nod towards the tech industry. Earlier this year, Apple posted a public ‘customer letter’ noting that “the best way forward would be … [to] form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology, and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy, and personal freedoms.”[3]

Clinton has a reputation for being more hawkish, security-oriented and traditional in outlook compared to the current President. These are signs that a Clinton Administration would look towards a new approach regarding encryption. Starting her Presidency with any kind of standoff with America’s tech giants would be disastrous. Her team would seek to avoid it at all costs! Conversely, a strong show of support from Silicon Valley would provide early firepower to her Presidency. Should she win in November, her actions so far seem to suggest a new era for US government encryption policies.

 

[2] ‘Hillary Clinton’s Initiative on Technology & Innovation,’ 27th June 2016, official campaign website hillaryclintom.com 

[3] ‘Answers to your questions about Apple and security,’ Apple website