It’s a debate that has repeatedly recurred for more than a decade. In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration directed technology companies to store copies of their encryption keys with the government. That would have given the government a “backdoor” to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies easy access to encrypted communications. That idea was dropped after sharp criticism from technologists and civil liberties advocates.
To help readers appreciate the arguments on both sides, we’ve pulled together some FAQs on a subject that is sure to be hotly debated in the years to come.