Apple CEO Tim Cook along with other tech giants are fighting back by explicitly stating they are not planning to weaken encryption on their devices to suit the needs of the government. A similar approach to encryption can be found in the Bitcoin ecosystem, or to be more precise, in the way mobile wallet provider Airbitz positions itself.
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Encryption Matters to Consumers & Companies
When it comes to using any device, consumers want nothing more than to know their information is safe at all times. Companies manufacturing devices used by plenty of customers around the world have the responsibility of providing data safety, by using strong encryption on their products, which keep information safe from prying eyes.
Apple CEO Tim Cook made media headlines this week when he announced how his company will not weaken device encryption under any circumstance. Various state agencies had requested Apple to come up with new devices that would provide government officials with user data, to fight terrorism on both the domestic and international level.
Weakening device encryption is a doom scenario for consumers all over the world, as it would mean none of their information is safe from governmental oversight. While there are plenty of people who have nothing to hide on their mobile devices, giving government agencies unrestricted access to one’s private information is not the best of ideas.
Apple CEO Tim Cook stated:
For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.
Encryption is a powerful tool that not only protects consumers from “bad guys,” but is also the same technology used by governments and private companies to keep the same assailants out of their systems. Whoever is in “control” of encryption can do it for good or nefarious purposes, but removing this tool from consumer devices because there is a near-neglectable chance of the technology being abused is absurd.
Companies such as Apple, Google, and others will fight tooth and nail to keep encryption in its current form, and consumers appreciate their efforts. But there are plenty of people in the Bitcoin world who take the same stance as Tim Cook. Among those people is Paul Puey, the CEO of Bitcoin wallet provider Airbitz.
Airbitz & Tim Cook Think Alike
Since the day Airbitz have released their wallet, encryption of sensitive user information has been the top priority. The primary goal of a Bitcoin wallet is putting the end user in full control of their finances, without third party intervention. As a result, the Airbitz wallet can be used at any given time, even if all of the company’s servers would go offline at the same time.
But there is more to it than just that, as Airbitz wants to ensure no one can access end user data without permission. This concept is known as “zero-knowledge,” and may very well become the future of private data storage. Strong encryption should be the standard for any company in the world of technology, particularly when Bitcoin is in the mix.
Airbitz CEO Paul Puey explained his vision as follows:
Our Edge Security model ensures that user data is safe by encrypting it locally on the device before it’s saved first on the device, then automatically backed up with zero-knowledge on our part. Even if ordered to surrender user data, Airbitz wouldn’t have the ability to access it. Our code is also open-source which means the community can audit us to keep us good on our word.
Bitcoin was created to decentralize the way people manage their finances. Part of that decentralization includes ensuring consumer data is not stored in one central location. Encryption will play an increasing role as money and the world as a whole become more digitized.
What are your thoughts on encryption? Should companies share data with the government? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Airbitz, Tim Cook