The father of public encryption and Quantum Xchange company advisor, Whitfield Diffie, pens a thoughtful and compelling opinion piece for Scientific American on the ongoing encryption debate between Silicon Valley and U.S. policy and lawmakers.
A government push for access is ostensibly about fighting crime, terrorism and child porn—but Diffie argues it could put all of us at risk of unwarranted surveillance. Will these issues be further complicated with the arrival of quantum computers? Diffie suggests we need better data protection for citizens and industry in the face of increasing nation-state threats to critical infrastructure, elections, human rights and civil liberties. Threats to cryptography from physics are quite sufficient. If quantum computing fulfills the physicists’ hopes, it will break the public key crypto systems that he and his colleagues developed in the 1970s and which are widely used today. Technologies like postquantum cryptography and quantum key distribution seek to protect data as we enter the quantum computing era.