If the NSA cannot crack the code your email provider uses, you get liberty.
Most people don’t care. If they did, they would pay for encryption. Hardly anyone does.
But the free market will still provide it, as a kind of “extra bonus.” Companies will provide it for free, the way that late-night TV ads pile on free bonuses if you act now, and call a toll-free phone number.
The head of Google predicts that within a decade, encryption will foil government attempts to monitor what people write or say. If true, that would mean the Google and other sources of unencrypted data would not supply the government with back-door ways into encrypted data. I am all for it. But, as Reagan said, “trust, but verify.”
The key to encryption is ease of use. The public will not climb any mountains of frustration to gain privacy. It will have to be seamless. It will have to be automatic, or close to it. It will have to involve no decisions from the users. We have seen that most people really don’t care about the loss of privacy. That’s why the NSA still gets its secret budget cleared by Congress. If Edward Snowden had not blown the whistle and revealed it — $52.6 billion a year — Congress would not have known. It is a black-ops budget.
Over time, the governments will lose their ability to survey people’s Internet communications. The decentralized technologies of encryption will surpass the centralized technologies of snooping. The cost of snooping will rise. The cost of encryption will fall. The good news is that government agencies will fall behind. Decentralization will win. The head of Google thinks so. I do, too.
Early adopters will take advantage of this first. Hopefully, the snoopers will waste resources going after these people, leaving them less money and less manpower to monitor the rest of us. Here is the government’s motto: “Honest people have nothing to hide.” So, they will try to crack the encryption programs of early adapters, who will be suspected of trying to hide something. This means that the non-adapters will gain a benefit: reduced likelihood of being monitored by a real, live human being.
Encryption is good. I hope its price continues to fall.