A fight over ads,  encryption and law enforcement

(March 14th, 2016) The battle between parts of the U.S. private sector and government officials over the tension between privacy and law enforcement goes on.



Politico reported on  California Sen. Dianne Feinstein “criticizing technology companies for preventing law enforcement from accessing encrypted data yet allegedly mining similar data to better target advertisements. The lawmaker is equating apples and oranges, {some cyber} specialists said, because companies that deliver ads to users typically have access to unencrypted versions of any data they use to target those ads. That means they could turn that data over in response to a search warrant. In the legal battle between Apple and the Justice Department over the encrypted iPhone used by San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook, by contrast, Apple can’t simply decrypt the data.’’

“There is no relation between these encryption issues and the way ads are targeted,”  Ronald Rivest, a cryptography researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Politico. “Browsers such as Google’s Chrome, for example, access unencrypted data that identifies the Web sites a user visits even if those sites encrypt what the customer does once on the site itself, said Joe Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology,’’ the news service reported.