2017 Winner

Security and Encryption Privacy: A Polarity that Must Be Balanced by Federal Law Enforcement And the Private Technology Sector to Ensure Citizen Security

Three policy options are analyzed in order to determine the best course of action to balance the security-privacy polarity.

Over the past 30 years advancements in digital technology have outpaced legislation and regulation aiming to provide law enforcement the necessary digital surveillance and investigative access to protect American citizens. Specifically, advancements in encryption technology have created platforms for criminals to communicate securely behind encrypted devices and/or networks that are controlled by private firms and relatively inaccessible to law enforcement. Moreover, in response to fear of government over-reach, private technology firms have deliberately moved to make encryption more defensible in order to protect consumer civil liberties. 

Existing legislation that establishes regulatory requirements primarily for fixed telecommunications systems are unfit to regulate disputes between law enforcement and the private sector. Furthermore, civil liberty concerns within the private sector reveals a security-privacy polarity between law enforcement and the private technology sector that needs to be balanced in order to protect citizens from encryption security threats. Essentially, this is not a problem of deciding between security and privacy because citizens rely on both to remain safe and preserve their rights to privacy. Rather, it is an imbalanced polarity to be adjusted. As a result, the federal government is in a position to decide its role in protecting both the security and privacy of U.S. citizens amidst a growing private sector that often outpaces federal action and places a premium on protecting customer privacy. 

Kyle J. Friesen