The Right to Privacy vs The Need to Investigate

With congressional hearings due on Wednesday to discuss US government plans to force tech companies to install backdoors in their encryption systems, some of the leading minds in the security world have published a paper on how, and if, such a system would work. (The Register).

The ability of one to be secure in their home, papers, effects and person is enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately TCP/IP wasn't around in the late 1700s, so applying the principle of privacy to our modern digital lives has been a challenge. The government has argued - and lost - twice before that certain technologies should be applied (the Clipper Chip) or restricted (strong encryption) so as to aid investigations and inhibit the ability of bad actors to evade detection. Such schemes seem good on paper but quickly break down when reality is applied. The idea situation would have us being able to identify and stop bad actors before they can carry out their malicious acts, but investigations of any type are supposed to be hard. That's the whole point of the Fourth Amendment: we accept the risk in exchange for liberty.