The Dangerous Policy of Weakening Security to Facilitate Surveillance

4 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2013

See all articles by Jon M. Peha

Jon M. Peha

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: October 4, 2013


Some nations may consider policies that are intended to facilitate legal surveillance for law enforcement or intelligence purposes by weakening the cybersecurity of commercially available products and services. This includes policies that make technical standards more vulnerable, or that motivate companies to build back doors into their commercial products and services. Such policies have the unintended side effect of making all users of the technology, including those that are not targets of legal surveillance, more vulnerable to attack from criminals, terrorists, and foreign powers. Before adopting such a policy, government agencies should do a complete risk assessment that considers not just the impact of the policy on their ability to conduct surveillance, but also these unintended side effects. Otherwise, well-intentioned policies designed to protect citizens from external threats may actually make citizens more vulnerable to external threats.

Keywords: surveillance, security, intelligence, back door, wiretapping, law enforcement, risk, standards

Suggested Citation

Peha, Jon M., The Dangerous Policy of Weakening Security to Facilitate Surveillance (October 4, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Jon M. Peha (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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