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Should companies have to unlock encrypted communication in the case of a crime?

A battle is brewing between tech companies and law enforcement over access to private data. As smartphones become more secure, law enforcement officials are calling for tech companies to create backdoors to these devices—a way for someone with a court order to have access to all of the encrypted data on the phone. Tech companies have refused, citing concerns about hacking and private security.


After Apple Case, Encryption Vs. National Security Dilemma Has Just Begun

Texas Gunman's Locked Cellphone Renews Debate Over Encryption

Additional resources to think about

Cyber Codes
Learn how encryption keeps online information private in this video from the NOVA Cybersecurity Lab.

Who's Snooping on You?
In this Above the Noise video, the host meets up with cybersecurity experts at Electronic Frontier Foundation to learn more about who’s snooping on people online and how you can protect yourselves.

Beyond the law: Are encrypted smartphones too private for the FBI?
In this interview from the PBS NewsHour, ProPublica reporter Julia Angwin discusses the director of the FBI's criticism over the advent of encrypted smart phones that allow users to keep data on their devices private.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)? 
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • What's the emotional appeal? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Should companies have to unlock encrypted communication in the case of a crime?

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