Hillary Clinton has yet to offer a definitive policy stance on strong end-to-end encryption, the mathematical algorithms that protect our data, instant messages, and web browsing. Instead of calling for a ban on government mandated encryption backdoors, something computer security experts have universally urged, she’s taken a backseat, supporting a hand waving “encryption commission.”
Clinton’s thoughts on encryption are vague and ill-defined, except, of course, when it comes to her own campaign. According to a new Vanity Fair article, the Clinton campaign is relying on Signal, the gold standard for unbreakable encrypted messaging. The Clinton campaign reportedly sent out an email instructing staffers on how to download and use the app.
The Clinton campaign is using the standalone Signal app, but Signal is more than just an app. It’s a specific encryption algorithm, a certain way of encrypting messages, that Google and Facebook have recently implemented into its encrypted messaging apps. Right now, there’s no better publicly available way to encrypt messages on the market. It’s received the highest praise from computer security experts for its strength against hackers and the minimal amount of extraneous data that is leaked.
As far as we know, law enforcement has no way of cracking messages encrypted using the Signal encryption protocol. There’s no backdoor or “golden key,” only the person who sent the message and the intended recipient can read it. Clinton’s campaign obviously sees the value of having encrypted messages for themselves, especially in the wake of the devastating DNC hack. If Clinton’s campaign enjoys the security and privacy of using encrypted messaging with no government backdoors, why won’t it support it for the rest of us?