Screenshot via CGP Grey

The encryption debate explained so simply, your dog could understand it

This is about more than just terrorists and criminals. It's about you, too.


Andrew Couts


Published Apr 17, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 10:38 pm CDT

If you’ve spent anytime on the Internet in the past month, you’ve probably heard a lot about encryption—maybe more than you’d like. 

Apple, the FBI, terrorism, crime: If you’re like many people, the whole thing just sounds complicated, convoluted, and—if we’re being honest with ourselves—somehow kind of boring. 

If you talk to people who keep tabs on the major battles of the Internet era, however, encryption couldn’t be more important—not only to Apple’s executives, members of Congress, or ISIS jihadists, but anyone who has a smartphone, buys things on Amazon, uses online banking, or has business files that need to stay secure. 

The very nature of encryption—using mathematical algorithms to scramble and unscramble data (like an email or a credit card number sent over the Internet)—is inherently dense. And because it’s often talked about these days in the context of terrorists and murders, it can be difficult to understand what the ongoing legal fight over strong encryption means for regular, law-abiding people. 

Enter explainer extraordinaire CGP Grey (not to be confused with PGP encryption). With the help of his signature illustrations, CGP Grey lays out the encryption debate in a such a clear way that anyone could understand it—and we mean anyone.

So, the next time someone asks “What’s up with this whole encryption thing?” you’ll know exactly the right answer—and maybe even want to get in on the fight.

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*First Published: Apr 17, 2016, 10:45 am CDT