While much of the reporting on encryption in the US in recent weeks has focused on the battle between the FBI and technology companies, the administration is far from united behind the FBI’s call for backdoors and easy access to nominally “secure” data.
Indeed, battle-lines within the administration are still being drawn, with the FBI and other spy agencies seeking unspecified “government access” to ensure no data is out of their reach. On the other side are government departments with data they want to keep secure.
That’s put the Pentagon, with its seemingly endless troves of secret data, directly against the FBI, concerned that a government policy of weakening encryption would put their own data at risk of being seized by other countries.
The White House is desperately trying to downplay the split, saying their “policy on encryption is clear,” but stopping well short of saying what that policy actually is, and trying to present the FBI as favoring “strong encryption – with limits,” though it is those limits which ultimately make the encryption vulnerable.
The split is not easily resolved with compromise, as the FBI wants to make sure all encryption can be broken by them, while the Pentagon and others data-heavy agencies and departments are going to want encryption that is not readily broken.