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Photo: Apple

It's been two years since the FBI and Apple got into a giant fight over encryption following the San Bernardino shooting, when the government had the shooter's iPhone, but not the password needed to unlock it, so it asked Apple to create a way inside.

What's most surprising is how little has changed since then. The encryption debate remains unsettled, with tech companies largely opposed and some law enforcement agencies still making the case to have a backdoor.

The case for strong encryption: Those partial to the tech companies' arguments will note that cyberattacks and hacking incidents have become even more common, with encryption serving as a valuable way to protect individuals' personal information.

The case for backdoors: Criminals are doing bad stuff and when devices are strongly encrypted they can do it in what amounts to the perfect dark alley, completely hidden from public view.

What's next: The issue could well come up again, with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein a passionate voice for what he calls “responsible encryption” — that is, encryption necessary to protect consumers’ information balanced with the ability of law enforcement to access that information with a court order.

“I fully appreciate the position that many technology companies are in,” Rosenstein said in a recent interview with Axios' Kim Hart. “We think the desire to prevent devices from being misused to promote criminal activity is a legitimate factor companies should consider in engineering those devices.... The movement toward law enforcement-proof encryption devices is going to be harmful in the long run to the interests of law enforcement and to citizens.”

Critics warn that such tools will inevitably fall into the hands of both hackers and repressive governments.

Dig deeper: Here's a Time magazine story from March 2016 that took a deep dive into the issue and included an interview with, among others, Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Go deeper

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

Trump's legacy is shaped by his narrow interests

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

President Trump's policy legacy is as much defined by what he's ignored as by what he's involved himself in.

The big picture: Over the past four years, Trump has interested himself in only a slim slice of the government he leads. Outside of trade, immigration, a personal war against the "Deep State" and the hot foreign policy issue of the moment, Trump has left many of his Cabinet secretaries to work without interruption, let alone direction.

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