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FBI Director Continues His Campaign Against Encryption 284

apexcp writes Following the announcements that Apple and Google would make full disk encryption the default option on their smartphones, FBI director James Comey has made encryption a key issue of his tenure. His blitz continues today with a speech that says encryption will hurt public safety.
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FBI Director Continues His Campaign Against Encryption

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:12PM (#48163077)

    Please think of the children!

    • by Russ1642 ( 1087959 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:15PM (#48163107)

      Pervert. Stop thinking of the children that way!

      • Obama Admin! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2014 @08:07PM (#48164801)

        Why not "Obama Admin Continues Its Campaign Against Encryption"? If the Obama admin was against it, they'd fire him. Obama or Bush, the result is the same, the government does not want encryption.

        • Re:Obama Admin! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @10:09PM (#48165637)

          I don't remember the Bush administration having much to say about encryption. I do remember Clinton trying to ban all non-escrowed encryption and put Clipper chips in everything, however.

        • Re:Obama Admin! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bobNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday October 16, 2014 @11:29PM (#48165989) Journal

          Why not "Obama Admin Continues Its Campaign Against Encryption"?

          Because they really don't care about the type of encryption Apple and Google are providing. They can get your (meta)data in so many other ways it's irrelevant.

          This faux outrage from the FBI stooge has nothing to do with any perceived difficulty in spying on citizens, it's about harm-management for the corporations that've been negatively affected by spying revelations. Nothing but smoke, mirrors, red herrings and misdirection all the way down.

          Don't believe a word of it, they've shown repeatedly they're self-serving and untrustworthy. Question everything they say and do, and ALWAYS look for the money trail.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Stop thinking of the children, you pedophile!

    • Re:The Children! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:29PM (#48163257)

      Please think of the children!

      Who are downloading things w/o paying for them! Seriously, isn't that all the FBI really cares about these days - protecting copyright holders?

    • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:42PM (#48163379) Homepage Journal

      It is not our job to make his job easier or effortless.

      Amendment IV

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      Our phones and computers are the modern day equivalent of "papers and effects".

      Encryption affords us the security promised by this amendment.

      Does this make the collection of data by various "letter agency" and police law enforcement departments tougher? YEP!

      Does it raise the possibility of criminals "slipping through the system"? YEP!

      I, for one, REFUSE to be pre-criminalized , simply because I don't choose to automatically drop trou whenever someone demands to see "ze papers". The only appropriate answer for this sort of thing is "Fuck you. Get a warrant."

      I also refuse to abrogate my rights and privileges due to an idiotic appeal to emotion (think of the CHILDREN!)

      *I* am not victimizing children. But, the way law enforcement wants to set things up, EVERYONE gets lumped in as would-be rapists, molesters and murderers.

      Jim Comey needs to be told to shut the hell up, do his job *RIGHT* and be a good little soldier.

      • In Alabama every drug warrant has article "G" attached to it that gives the officers the right to search all files and computers, for drug records. If you keep your records in, let's say French, then the police can take them to a translator. If you keep your papers in some kind of "encrypted" scheme that requires some mechanism to decrypt, then it's evidence enough that you deal drugs. I hope encryption on phones doesn't have the same effect.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        You know tat amendment gives the government the right to search your papers and effects as long as they follow procedure.

        What he wants is the ability to get a warrant and carry out a search; which is a reasonable.

        And the reason he uses are legitimate reasons.
        People commit crimes, he wants to be able to find evidence and build a case is evidence is found.

        • I'd be a little more sympathetic to his position if it were not for the massive abuses of various govt. agencies which were recently revealed.

  • by kruach aum ( 1934852 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:15PM (#48163109)

    The issue is the balance between public safety and personal privacy. Denying the citizen of any democracy the right to encryption of their personal communication is not an appropriate response to the perceived threat to public safety that same encryption would bring.

    • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:47PM (#48163441) Homepage Journal

      The issue is the balance between public safety and personal privacy. Denying the citizen of any democracy the right to encryption of their personal communication is not an appropriate response to the perceived threat to public safety that same encryption would bring.

      Quoth Schneier [schneier.com]:

      ...there's no evidence that encryption hampers criminal investigations in any serious way. In 2013, encryption foiled the police nine times, up from four in 2012 -- and the investigations proceeded in some other way.

      There never is any reason to remove a citizen's right to privacy except to extend the power of the state. You can argue the reasons for and against this, but historically, we've always found that more respect for individual rights contributes significantly to better governance.

      • Thank you.

        This whole experiment that is the USA is all about trading safety for liberty. King George said the same thing, and he was right, just like this FBI shrub is right. We simply don't care. I might rephrase that to say; we care, to a reasonable amount, but no more than that.

        And I like the thing about encryption foiling the police 9 times, and yet they still got their man, but it only counts as an argument to make the FBI shrub look like an idiot. One can't consider that when discussing the rights of

    • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:50PM (#48163463)

      The issue is the balance between public safety and personal privacy.

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches is not just a nice idea, it is codified by the founding fathers as a fundamental principle differentiating this country from others..

      The only "issue" is whether you agree with this principle, or not.

      • The issue is the balance between public safety and personal privacy.

        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches is not just a nice idea, it is codified by the founding fathers as a fundamental principle differentiating this country from others..

        The only "issue" is whether you agree with this principle, or not.

        Ah no, not quite. The only issue at stake here is watching our (s)elected lawmakers sworn to protect said "nice idea" who are not upholding that promise.

        I don't give a shit whether you agree or not. Judges likely don't agree with 100% of the laws they have to go by. They are there to uphold the Constitution. If you or they don't like it, that's what Amendments are for.

  • by Agares ( 1890982 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:15PM (#48163111) Journal
    More like help protect us from the prying eyes of big brother.
  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:16PM (#48163113) Homepage Journal

    just that simple, Director.

  • by mewsenews ( 251487 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:17PM (#48163127) Homepage
    You don't deserve privacy because criminals don't deserve privacy.
    • Comey will speak about how crimes like kidnappings and robberies will go unsolved due to encryption, a senior F.B.I official said, a sharp follow up to his remarks that encryption places users âoebeyond the law.â

      - encryption does not place users beyond the law, Comey likes to have FBI that is beyond the law.

    • Your "effects" are what give your work value and that you build up over time, if you are a professional.

      If you are a consultant and can't protect your 'effects', meaning your customer lists, fee schedules, solutions and such, then someone will likely get it and use it for free, or start taking your customers away.

      The FBI director needs to take a new line of work. As a lawyer, by the way, he needs to protect his "effects" or his clients could sue him for allowing their information to become public.

  • I don't trust it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Russ1642 ( 1087959 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:17PM (#48163131)

    Anyone wanna bet that they have no trouble breaking this encryption, or they have secret backdoors? This is just a big advertising campaign to get people to think they can't break it.

    • Re:I don't trust it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:34PM (#48163297)

      Exactly. If they really couldn't break it, the last thing the FBI director would be telling the public is "Hey, here's a device that criminals could use and completely cover their tracks!" By persuading the public that these phones provide an impenetrable wall that law enforcement can't get past, they are hoping criminals will feel comfortable recording their secret activities on their phones. This could provide a treasure trove of information and evidence for law enforcement.

      No matter how strong the encryption algorithms are themselves, there's nothing to stop the FBI from planting a malicious app (a keylogger for instance). They could even serve Apple with a warrant to require them to install this app as a software update. And there's nothing to stop them from serving a warrant to the user of the phone him or herself requiring them to unlock the device. And, of course, there's always the possibility of exploiting vulnerabilities in the OS or some poorly written app. It's hard to believe that the iOS operating system has perfect security.

      So it seems pretty clear that this publicity campaign is really all about creating a false sense of security. Think about it: if the FBI were really concerned, they'd be having quiet discussions with Apple, not shouting their concerns to the public. Is anyone not going to buy the device because the encryption is to strong for the FBI's taste? So what would the purpose of this publicity campaign be?

      • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:47PM (#48163435) Homepage

        No matter how strong the encryption algorithms are themselves, there's nothing to stop the FBI from planting a malicious app (a keylogger for instance). They could even serve Apple with a warrant to require them to install this app as a software update.

        Umm... you need to learn how warrants work.

        This comment got modded to 3???

        • by fisted ( 2295862 )

          Umm... you need to learn how warrants work.

          Does he need to learn how warrants work?
          Or do you need to be reminded of the status quo?

          *adjusts tinfoil hat*

          • by brunes69 ( 86786 )

            The thing people seem to forget is the Apple is a corperation and thus cares about profit over all else.

            If the government asks Apple to do something outside it's legal bounds, that will cost Apple a lot of money, Apple will tell the government to F off. They won't just bend over and spend hundreds of millions of dollars installing backdoors on phones because the FBI asked nice.

            This is the main reason Microsoft, Apple, and Google fight NSLs so much and it is the hidden motive behind recent moves to always-on

        • No matter how strong the encryption algorithms are themselves, there's nothing to stop the FBI from planting a malicious app (a keylogger for instance). They could even serve Apple with a warrant to require them to install this app as a software update.

          Umm... you need to learn how warrants work.

          This comment got modded to 3???

          Perhaps you need to learn how NSLs work.

          Then get back to me as to how the fuck you'll even know about it.

          "They" don't come knocking on you front door anymore to search your effects. They just crack your cell phone in half from 1,000 miles away with nothing more than a hint of terrorism splashed on you from 2-3 degrees of separation.

          • by brunes69 ( 86786 )

            Couple of things

            a) A national security letter is not a "warrant". It is not even close to the same thing

            b) Even a national security letter can't be used to tell Apple or anyone else to install some kind of backdoor on a device. The most a national security letter could do is authorize a wiretap on the device and all it's communication flows inbound and outbound. This is not even close to the same thing. An NSL can be sent to Apple telling it to give the FBI all information it has. If Apple does not have any

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So it seems pretty clear that this publicity campaign is really all about creating a false sense of security. Think about it: if the FBI were really concerned, they'd be having quiet discussions with Apple, not shouting their concerns to the public. Is anyone not going to buy the device because the encryption is to strong for the FBI's taste? So what would the purpose of this publicity campaign be?

        The purpose of this is to lobby Congress to make it illegal for Apple, Google, or any open source project to s

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:19PM (#48163161) Homepage Journal

    His blitz continues today with a speech that says encryption will hurt public safety.

    I suspect, he is right — it will hurt public safety.

    But it will improve individual privacy and America has always valued the cantankerous Individual above the glorious Collective, that other cultures prefer...

    • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:34PM (#48163305)

      America has always valued the cantankerous Individual above the glorious Collective, that other cultures prefer...

      Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not...

      "America" demands the nanny-state, be it the TSA groping grannies for 10 years, the militarization your police...on and on.

      None of the Glorious Collectives behave like Boston did after the Marathon bombings... HIDE IN YOUR HOUSE AND TREMBLE IN FEAR.

      • History shows that this mentality is not permanent. British rule over the US is a prime example that every US student should learn in public schools. People took a lot of crap from the Brits for a long time, and there was a point where momentum changed and we had a revolt.

        The US is not very far from this today.

        On the momentum behind the pro nanny state, most of the people in this movement are on the government dime (either work for the Government or receive some form of Welfare). It does not take a very

        • British rule over the US is a prime example that every US student should learn in public schools. People took a lot of crap from the Brits for a long time, and there was a point where momentum changed and we had a revolt.

          British rule over the US is a prime example that every American should learn from serious scholarship, not the national myths presented in school textbooks (the US is no exception to the trend for school textbooks in any country to be an idealized depiction of history for the sake of patri

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )

            British rule over the US is a prime example that every American should learn from serious scholarship, not the national myths presented in school textbooks

            You start with a fair point, then move to a false assertion. While we could surely find discrepancies of opinion between Britain and the US on rationality that lead to the revolution, your claim that one side is a Myth is grossly biased.

            The "momentum changing" which you refer to wasn't just public opinion swaying through peaceful debate, it was revolutionaries e.g. burning down the houses of that significant portion of the population that remained loyal to Britain.

            From bias to an appeal to emotion, so we move down hill from what was a good first statement. Your generalization fails to account for people that were turning in "revolutionaries" for money, land, property, and promises. There were plenty of loyalists who were not really

            • There were plenty of loyalists who were not really loyal, but saw the opportunity for personal gain at the expense of others.

              OK, some loyalists were turning in revolutionaries. What about the many thousands of others who did nothing but publicly voice a desire to remain under Britain? Where was the revolutionaries' love of "individual liberty" in openly persecuting them?

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @07:08PM (#48164185) Homepage Journal

      and America has always valued the cantankerous Individual above the glorious Collective, that other cultures prefer...

      When I was in college I took several courses from the famous scholar of Japanese literature, Howard Hibbet. In one of the classes there was student who liked to talk about Japanese culture's "Samurai values". The professor listened politely to this student, until one day he said somethign that has stuck with me for thirty years: "You should be careful about uncritically accepting the way a culture likes to present itself."

      I have found this to be very true, even of corporate cultures.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        You should be careful about uncritically accepting the way a culture likes to present itself

        That's the point. We like to present ourselves as Individuals — and that's why concerns for personal privacy ought to trump those of collective safety, however valid the latter might be.

        That we don't always act the way — a significant part of the population thinks, they can force others to be as (and even more) charitable as they are, for example — but that's of no account. Not in this conversatio

    • by artg ( 24127 )
      If public safety is his concern, there are many more dangerous things than terrorism :
      americans-are-as-likely-to-be-killed-by-their-own-furniture-as-by-terrorism [theatlantic.com]
      us-police-murdered-5000-innocent-civilians-since-911 [mintpressnews.com]
      more-killed-by-toddlers-than-terrorists-in-us [forward.com]
      Dead right you should think of the children. They're dangerous.
      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Why would you bring terrorism into this? I made no mention of it... FBI's ability to decrypt private electronics would make it easier for them to prosecute all sorts of criminals — from terrorists to corrupt policemen. At the expense of privacy of the rest of us, of course.

    • I suspect, he is right — it will hurt public safety.

      I don't think Apple or Google making phone encryption suck so criminals can find and abuse the law enforcement backdoor would improve public safety.

  • Make a case... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:21PM (#48163177)
    It would help his position if the FBI were to go after Federal agencies (e.g. the NSA) for their illegal violation of citizen's privacy rights, and make it perfectly clear that the only searches of cell phones the FBI is interested in would be supported by probable cause and warrants from legitimate courts.

    But I somehow think his reasoning is more on par with "we don't like people protecting their rights, because it makes it harder for us to violate them."
  • Because if encryption is bad, then they should give it up, right?

    Unless, they think they deserve privacy but don't want to give it to other people.

    What about reporters investigating corruption among FBI? Will they be allowed encryption? Will the reporter have to admit they are investigating FBI, or will all reporters be allowed encryption?

  • When the people and organizations in government demonstrate trustworthiness, we will trust them to keep the keys.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:25PM (#48163225)

    Choice #1: my smartphone isn't encrypted, the FBI "protects" my safety

    Choice #2: my smartphone is encrypted, the FBI can't get to my data.

    I choose #2 thank you very much.

  • ~pinky to lips~
    every time you encrypt a file, I will kill a kitten~

    Muwhaa haha hahaaaaaaa!!!

  • no more encrypted data streams. Watch identity theft skyrocket. Man in the middle attacks intercepting cleartext transactions and account info of every kind. Destroying everyone's livelihood. How is that public safety?
  • Don't criminals already use encryption? Am I supposed to, out of pure love for the government, not encrypt my devices so that if I ever become a criminal the FBI can more easily find me? Wouldn't that just make me a more likely target for crimials? Or perhaps the FBI is suggesting that companies should not provide encryption by default, causing customers will choose a competitor's product instead? This is silly: the only reason to start this campaign is if the end goal is to convince legislators to make

  • This is the same imbecile that told Congress that Americans who are known to have fought for ISIS cannot be immediately arrested or denied entry--they'll just be "closely monitored"--cuz they're US citizens with valid passports.

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      And considering how bad the information from the battlefield is on who is "known" to have fought for ISIS, he's probably in the right.
  • FBI director James Comey has made encryption a key issue of his tenure.

    That was a fight that was 'lost' in the 90s. Too many large companies now rely on encryption......as in every bank, every for-profit website, any website that has the IT department using ssh to manage servers, every company that uses remote desktop to manage servers.....and soon every company that accepts credit cards.

    Sorry man, encryption is here to stay. Learn to pick your battles because nothing's going to happen with that one.

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:46PM (#48163423)

    To effectively violate the 4th amendment as it is. I have a great deal of trouble believing his concerns are legitimate and complete.

    What's more the greatest problem with a full on surveillance state that can and does relentlessly bring the full weight of the state against people without the means to properly defend themselves is the number of false positives can easily exceed the number of actual criminals.That would be actual crimes, not the simple fact the complexity of our legal system renders most people guilty of something.

  • It's a good thing that government demanding and getting limitless, secret access to every accessible detail of everyone's life has no history of being used for political vengeance and oppression, otherwise he'd be advocating for policies that have an unbroken, horrifying, outrageous, infamous track record.
  • by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:50PM (#48163453)

    Seriously. By a large margin I am most likely to die due to an age related illness.Somewhere after that are non-age related illnesses. Then accidents.Then Suicide. Being killed by "bad people" is WAY down the list. Why on earth should I give up my rights to protect myself from a tiny chance of death?

    Obviously people in power would like more control over me, but why should I agree to it?

  • Public safety is hurt by cars, since over 30,000 people die in car crashes every year in the US. Not only that, criminals use cars. Does the FBI Director think you should not have the right to use a car?

    How many people are killed by encryption?

  • by LessThanObvious ( 3671949 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:54PM (#48163507)

    FBI / NSA: Dude, you're becoming a monster.

    Citizen: You made me this way...

    All encryption does is protect the individual from self incrimination and prevent them from using illegally captured traffic and metadata to do parallel construction a.k.a. lying about the source of evidence.

  • by sdguero ( 1112795 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @05:56PM (#48163527)
    between banning encryption and banning banks, safes, and safety deposit boxes?
  • I'm usually not the religious kind of guy, but it fits far too well to just let it slip.

  • the only winner is another state.

  • In an ideal world, individuals would use encryption that would protect their privacy from the run-of-the-mill attacker but not from the government.

    The public backlash to such a model is the result of people not trusting their government (and by extension the police).

    Tackle the lack of trust and these problems go away. This is a social problem, not a technical one.

  • ... that James Comey hasn't been kidnapped and brainwashed [wikipedia.org] by the Chinese?

  • The FBI's abandoning its primary task of watching the watchers and instead invading the privacy of every American is PRECISELY why Google's and Apple's taking a stand is needed.

    Now with the FBI sucking up to Congress rather than scrutinizing them and instead continuing to defile our constitutional rights, who is left to watch the watchers? That WAS the job of the FBI.

  • I have nothing to say to this but "the chair is against the wall". Also. "John has a long mustache" and X35DNK685.

  • Time for popcorn!!!

  • I don't get how encryption can hurt public safety. The courts have been quite clear the government can get a warrant and force you to unencrypt your files. So the only thing the FBI has to fear here is if they were operating outside the bounds of the constitution and trying to avoid judicial scrutiny.
  • Wow.... Had the FBI and NSA followed the law to the letter, this sort of thing wouldn't be necessary. Now they've f**ked up and made their jobs harder. It's just so sad.... cry me a river. They've proven the FBI and the NSA *CAN NOT* and *SHOULD NOT* be trusted. By anyone. And for the record, you don't get to tell software vendors or users what they can and can't do with their property. Comey can go f**k himself and the horse he rode in on. We don't need him or the FBI.

    Don't tread on me. 'nuff said

  • ... with separation of powers, the police have the good decency not to engage in matters of political policy, and on the occasion they do, they get slapped on the wrist.

  • Used and implemented properly, encryption can also provide protection against fraud. It would seem though that the FBI would prefer to encourage agencies around the world to snoop rather than actually *prevent* crime.

    Still, I've heard that cops aren't exactly fond of doing the hard work of following proper protocols and procedures, opting for short cuts. It's a bit insulting that they constantly claim they don't have enough search and seize powers however when they start criticizing the one method that may

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Thursday October 16, 2014 @08:06PM (#48164789) Homepage Journal

    Had the goobernmint not let the NSA run roughshod over the constitution and the rights of people both foreign and domestic, the general public would not be baying for the means to keep them out.

    The goobernmint brought this upon themselves through their abuses.

    Screw 'em.

    • It would have come anyway, but possibly slower. There's also been the fappening, the Snappening, major store chains hit by hackers that stole credit card info... People are starting to wake up the reality of the digital age, and this is it: unencrypted data is not secure against bad actors who will use it against you. Encrypted data MIGHT be secure. At least it's better than unencrypted data.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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