Before the FBI managed to access the data with the aid of outside third-parties, Apple was prepared for a legal battle to prevent the government agency from ordering the creation of a backdoor to the San Bernardino iPhone.
The case lent more fuel to the ‘security vs privacy' debate that has, among other things, led to some members of governments calling for communication apps to weaken their encryption or implement backdoors. Several current and upcoming messaging services, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Allo, offer end-to-end encryption.
While those calling for the ability to access users’ messages say it’s in the interests of national security, such a move has been met with resistance from technology experts and privacy advocates, who say it would likely cause more harm than good.
But over in Russia, it looks as if a new bill will mean backdoors in encrypted messaging apps may soon become mandatory. According to a report in The Daily Dot, the rule is part of a proposed “anti-terrorist” bill in the country’s lowest legislative house.
Should it become law, the legislation will see companies that refuse to introduce backdoors into their apps facing fines of up to 1 million rubles or around $15,500. One Russian senator, Yelena Mizuliana, said teens are brainwashed in closed groups on the internet to murder police officers, bizarrely, so there should be methods that allow the Federal Security Service to circumvent encryption.
Mizuliana even suggested that the backdoors didn’t go far enough. "Maybe we should revisit the idea of pre-filtering [messages]," she said. "We cannot look silently on this."
If mandatory backdoors become the law in Russia, it will be interesting to see how the messaging companies react.
Iran is another country looking to clamp down on messaging apps. The Middle Eastern state is demanding that foreign messaging services “transfer all data and activity linked to Iranian citizens into the country in order to ensure their continued activity."