Encryption has been around longer than people think because people associate encryption with World War II and the Enigma Machine. This is an example of modern day encryption, but coded messages have been passed around for ages with the same goal, private and secure communication. Information can be intercepted, and this information could be the difference between life or death, but making sure that information can not be interpreted by those who intercept it is the goal of encrypted messages. Another crude form of encryption is time limited messages, similar to those seen in spy movies where the message is destroyed within X amount of time. Bridging the gap between these two forms of encryption are burner phones. As you can see, there are many forms of encrypted communication and there will always be new methods created to ensure private, secure communication.
Why is Encryption being talked about so much?
Encryption is a way to make information private, viewable only to those who possess the encryption key. There are many different forms and methods of encryption, but the idea is the same across all forms of encryption, private communication. The recent rise in terrorist activity has given the Government another reason to attack encryption and anything related to private communications. Under the threat of mass destruction, they seek to find out any means necessary to intercept private communications. This is why encryption is being discussed by citizens and governments.
Does Encryption guarantee anonymity?
No. There is always a chance of losing anonymity no matter what method is used, but encryption has a higher success rate of maintaining anonymity because of its very nature. There are other forms of communication that are as successful as encryption, such as burner phones or proxy communication, but applying a layer of encryption on digital communications is not a difficult task. The ease of installation and compliance is advantageous to criminals and government agents alike.
What are some alternate options to Encryption?
Burner phones are an alternate option to encryption. Authorities around the world are aware of the use of burner phones in the criminal world. The technology is affordable for any criminal. Coded messages are another option for encrypted messaging, as is communication via proxy(TOR).
Encryption will never go away because private communication is needed for multiple aspects of human life. Breaking encryption is not a new step taken by the Government or three letter agencies, but the effect of successfully breaking digital encryption could be chilling. No one is certain what decisions the Governments of the world will ultimately take regarding digital encryption, but we can already tell from divulged information that citizens are concerned with the future of encryption.