CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - One of the great challenges in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups stems from their ability to plan attacks and communicate with cells world-wide, while taking advantage of the very same technology safeguards that the rest of us want and use every day.
“Communications networks don't really care what the content of the communication that they're transmitting is,” said John Marshall Law School professor David Sorkin. “Technology companies want to be able to assure their customers and their subscribers that their own privacy is being respected, that the confidentiality of their communications is secure.”
Apple's iMessaging, for example, is encrypted when it leaves one phone and can only be decrypted by the receiver of the message.
And while there's no evidence the Paris attackers used Playstation 4 consoles to communicate, the technology is there to allow conversations that can't be monitored. Because while people connecting over games initially use Sony's or Microsoft's servers to connect, it doesn't have to stay that way.
“Sometimes, depending on the game that's being played, they'll even pass the communication off so we're just talking directly to each other, peer to peer communication,” said Tom Dowd, Associate Chairman of the Interactive Arts and Media Department at Columbia College Chicago.
Which Dowd says can't be monitored because the technology isn’t there to allow it.
In the fight against ISIS, governments may want tech companies to create a way for them to get back door access to encrypted communications, but the companies are fighting that because that could make them vulnerable to hacking.
And terrorists would then find some other way to secretly communicate.
“I think whack-a-mole is one good way to look at it. The point is that you can't really stop technology with law. Technology's going to keep developing,” said professor Sorkin.
Which means the privacy we all enjoy comes with a price, because it not only protects us, but also those who would put it to the worst possible uses.