FBI Director James Comey lamented in July 2015 before Congress over the need for surveillance of criminal and terrorist communications. He recognized the countervailing needs for privacy on the part of citizens. His request for public debate on strong encryption sought to find a balance between these two sets of needs.
Surveillance of suspect communications is a strongly felt need on the part of every government department and officer responsible for public safety and security.
Privacy of communications is an expectation born of American history. The Declaration of Independence was a call to revolution against "tyranny" and "despotism". Article II of the Constitution, the right to bear arms, is widely interpreted as a defense against government intrusion into the lives of a free citizenry. Surveillance? That subject makes many Americans feel nervous.
The problem at its roots is essentially one of political will. Congress responds to public opinion. But as citizens each of us is conflicted; our ideal would be privacy for ourselves and effective surveillance for bad guys. In reality, our view is influenced by the latest news cycle. Terrorist atrocity today? Our congressional rep will hear tomorrow that we want better security. Revelation of a previously unreported government surveillance mechanism? Our congressional rep will hear tomorrow that our privacy is not to be messed with. In this teeter-totter public opinion environment, our political leaders are charged to shape solid policy which will provide an effective ongoing balance between privacy and public safety needs.
A first principle of policy making: It's a learning process. We are not going to get any set of measures entirely right from the get-go. There are always unanticipated situations and unintended consequences.
In order to escape the turmoil of news cycle politics, we must somehow tap into the deeper long-term concerns and comfort levels of our society. To this end, we propose a system that attempts to balance privacy versus public safety, and offer the people a totally free choice, whether or not to use the system. Our approach is modeled on the division of powers. U.S. Patent 6,757,699 provides the backbone for a distributed privacy-assuring system.
The following graphic overview is fleshed out on a separate page which in turn is supported by linked explanations of particular elements.
The benefits of the system we recommend:
Public confidence in the system is of the utmost importance. To this end:
Here again is access to detail on the protocol.