End-to-end encryption:End-to-end encryption was initially made public through a software called “Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)”, created by Phil Zimmermann in 1991. End-to-end encryption is a communication based encryption system which, in theory, prevents potential eavesdroppers such as telecommunication providers, public authorities, hackers, internet providers and communication service providers from intercepting or reading messages between customers(Greenberg 2014). Due to recent cases such as Apple vs. the FBI, tech companies are opting for this alternative encryption method in which only the sender and the receiver can decrypt the message and no other party.
The cryptographic key, with which it is possible to decrypt the sent communications between costumers is only located at the outbound and inbound computers. Hence, company’s servers through which the communications are send, only act as illiterate messengers, enabling customers to interact privately(Greenberg 2014). Consequently, Tech companies are unable to comply when the authorities request access to customers personal data as, this data is not stored nor accessible by the company but only by the customers(Etzioni 2016, 565). This has the benefit of making user data more private and protected since third parties such as public authorities like the NSA or the FBI are less likely to obtain access to user’s communications. However, one downside is also the fact that companies are not able to help their customers in case they forget their passwords.
Also, end-to-end encryption exposes a threats for the public authorities as they no longer have access to data which could potentially be valuable for fighting crime and terrorism (Etzioni 2016, 567). MethodologyThis section will describe our research approach, discuss the reasons for choosing such a design, and outline the process of analysis. The chosen research design is a stakeholder conflict analysis. The nature of our research is qualitative and the evidence analysis rests mostly on a critical review of existing academic literature on encryption debate, media reports, and official statements.
Stakeholder analysis usually includes interviews or focus group sessions with experts and representatives of each stakeholder in the debate, however, given the limitations of the scope and scale of this report, we will not be conducting this research. The primary reason for choosing stakeholder conflict analysis as our research design is the fact that encryption is a controversial technology. Therefore, linear technology assessment methods like cost-benefit analysis cannot be applied as different interest groups might identify different costs and benefits of encryption.
Conversely, stakeholder analysis allows to survey this technology from each perspective and gives a better picture of this societal-technological conflict.The definition of stakeholder is in itself a debate in academic literature. The term draws its origins from 17th century, however in academic literature it established itself only by the end of last century.
This paper builds its assessment on Freeman’s definition of stakeholder distinguishing them as those who are affecting the situation and those who are affected by the situation(2010). The assessment process used in this report is as follows. First, we identify and characterize the stakeholders. The identification process relates closely to the issues outlined in the previous section. We organize the analysis by power-interest matrix(Ackermann and Eden 2011, 183). Even though encryption debate is often in the headlines nowadays, all stakeholders have varying degrees of interest: some are proactively engaged with the issue, some only respond sporadically once the issue comes closer to them.
Power differences also shape the stakeholders’ role: some actors have institutional and leverages over certain issues. Information asymmetry plays a role as well. Second, we analyze the relationships between the stakeholders by employing actor-linkage matrix(Prell, Hubacek, and Reed 2009, 1939). In four paragraphs after the matrix we provide a step by step overview of the relationship dynamics shaping the encryption debate.