This is perhaps not surprising, but still disappointing. Former NYC mayor and current billionaire media/tech company boss Michael Bloomberg has come down on the wrong side of the “going dark” encryption fight. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed (possible paywall link) he scolds tech execs for daring to side with Apple over the FBI and the Justice Department on the question of backdooring encryption. Bloomberg does not appear to actually understand the issues at play.
The fireworks and parades this weekend will give Americans a chance to celebrate the nation’s independence from England and show their love of country. But true patriotism involves more than flying the flag—and more than paying taxes and casting ballots. It requires putting America’s needs above individual interests when national security and public safety are at stake.
Generations of Americans have honored that principle, risking their lives to preserve a nation “conceived in Liberty,” as Lincoln remarked in his Gettysburg Address, “and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Today, 1.3 million men and women serve in the military on active duty, often in dangerous situations overseas. Yet here at home, some executives in an industry that thrives on freedom—technology—are resisting government efforts to safeguard it. They are dangerously wrong.
Note the false framing here. Bloomberg is setting up the argument that backdooring encryption for the sake of the FBI/DOJ is “good for national security and public safety.” He’s wrong. It’s not. It’s not even close. It actually puts many more people at risk, because the only way to backdoor encryption effectively is to break that encryption and put everyone who uses it at much more risk. Yes, it means that the FBI/NSA won’t be able to track some people, but it’s a very small number of people, and they have other ways to track them without undermining the security of everyone else.