As I thought about Rosenstein’s “sensible” plea for responsible encryption, I began to wonder: Politicians and powerful civil servants aren’t ignorant or lazy, they know how to surround themselves with talent and ask the right questions. Certainly, they’re not unaware that what they ask for is pointless, right?
And then it struck me: Above all else, politicians play the crowd, it’s how they keep their jobs. The ostentatious plea for “responsible encryption” is mere grandstanding aimed at gaining Law and Order votes from people who justifiably don’t like the idea of Bad People being able to hide their communications from authorities.
The grandstanding often takes the form of a hackneyed hypothetical: A terrorist is hiding the location of a dirty bomb on his smartphone. Who wouldn’t want a trusted government agency to unlock the device and save a city?
The hypothetical isn’t just painful, it’s dishonest and manipulative.