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Encryption Communications Government Privacy Your Rights Online

Governments of the World Agree: Encryption Must Die! 221

Lauren Weinstein writes: Finally! There's something that apparently virtually all governments around the world can actually agree upon. Unfortunately, it's on par conceptually with handing out hydrogen bombs as lottery prizes. If the drumbeat isn't actually coordinated, it might as well be. Around the world, in testimony before national legislatures and in countless interviews with media, government officials and their surrogates are proclaiming the immediate need to "do something" about encryption that law enforcement and other government agencies can't read on demand. Apropos: This IT World story (and the New York Times piece it draws from — also published today) about a newly disclosed NSA program through which the agency is "reportedly intercepting Internet communications from U.S. residents without getting court-ordered warrants."
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Governments of the World Agree: Encryption Must Die!

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  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @05:36PM (#49842907)

    as people start to use steganographic methods.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 04, 2015 @06:05PM (#49843195)

      Yes, blocking encryption might make it easy to catch low hanging fruit, but it will win a battle or two and lose the war. ISIS and Al Qaeda do quite well in communications with just old fashioned courier services.

      Lets say that the US signs a treaty with other nations (treaties override the US constitution as per precedent) banning all forms of crypto completely except say, Clipper 2.0 and SkipJack 2.0. The bad guys who wind up not caring that their private keys get sucked out and used against them will get nailed at first.

      However, the real bad guys will just start going back to tried and true methods which worked perfectly to coordinate criminal activity for centuries before computers and portable devices came along. Yes, location monitoring might help with HUMINT, but as Iraq and ISIS has shown, extremely low tech means have gotten a group of insurgents armed with little more than pickup trucks, AKs and insane levels of brutality to actually form a caliphate which Europe officially recognizes as a sovereign nation and trading partner.

      Then, there is the distrust factor. If only key escrow remains, who owns the master keys? If China does, US interests would be destroyed, like the solar panel industry. Eventually nations will keep encryption just so they are not vulnerable to other nations.

      Finally, there is the DRM factor. If cryptography is banned, how can console makers keep selling $300 worth of crap for an eight-hour playing game and make money? How do they protect 5k video streams from pirates? Outlaw encryption in the US, China will have it. DRM requires strong crypto, and the big companies know it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 04, 2015 @06:22PM (#49843365)

        "bad guys" will continue to use home made encryption and not give a fuck what governments say.

        • Indeed. The parent comment is an interesting exploration of what would happen if encryption vanished overnight, but that simply won't happen. Crypto is out of the bag, and it's not going to go away. Bad guys won't obey the laws.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Any be extension, anyone not obeying the law is a bad guy. It's just another law to use against citizens they don't like, i.e. the ones who care about privacy. Encrypted files found on your computer, planted or real, will be evidence of terrorism. Naturally the laws will be anti-terror laws, not just regular criminal laws, and so by definition anyone who violates them is a terrorist.

        • They are actually okay with just the bad guys using it because they can have the computing power and attack vectors to break small amounts of encryption (and they'll be able to narrow down who the bad guys are). It's only when everyone uses that it becomes a problem for surveillance.

          • But... to use key escrow, I presume you have to go to some trouble to get the key from escrow and apply it to specific people. unless of course the escrow is a ruse for just decrypting everything.

            • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @01:01AM (#49845621)

              The "trouble" is minimal. The encryption is identifiable by its public keys, especially when the "keys" are nailed to the motherboard by programls like "Trusted Computing" and held by Microsoft in their "escrow", with no policy of resisting any requests whatsoever. Examine the pratices and policy of that technology carefully: it's not aimed at protecting users, it's aimed at both DRM and at making documents _traceable_ to specific sources.

            • by johanw ( 1001493 )

              Escrow is soo 1990's. With perfect forward secrecy, there is no single key to escrow. Even if I would cooperate, there is no way I would be able to help someone decrypt my intercepted old TextSecure messages or Redphone calls.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Which points to exactly what the surveillance is all about, nothing to do with terrorist and everything to do with crushing political activism, silencing the voice of the people under the threat of anything they say could be used to destroy them and their families. Just as the US Federal government under that slimey POS Uncle Tom surveilled, attacked and persecuted via false prosecution out of existence, the occupy wall street movement.

            Nothing at all to do with crime and everything to do with again silen

        • "bad guys" will continue to use home made encryption and not give a fuck what governments say.

          Heh Heh.

          "You SHOULD roll your own encryption, and you can't be too careful so don't forget to make your own PRNG too." -- Well Funded Intelligence Agency

          I made that up. But you know it's true.

          • well the documentation is already out there for various crypto algorithms and there are a number of open source implementations to look at so it isn't like this is an impossible task. Also given that these people are already doing something illegal what is to stop them from violating the GPL or just saying fuck it and using a real encryption program.
        • by johanw ( 1001493 )

          Why doing so complicated and tricky as to build your own crypto? The source code of GnuPG, TextSecure, TrueCrypt and other well-known crypto programs are widely available. One only has to take the old version without the backdoor, or rip out the backdoor. There will be underground developers enough who will do that.

      • ISIS and Al Qaeda do quite well in communications with just old fashioned courier services.

        I thought they used smoke signals:

        No smoke: wazzuuup! Takin' the day off.
        1 Big puff of smoke: Yep - new detonator design works.
        2 Big puffs of smoke: Ali who got sick the other day, is feeling okay again.
        3 Big puffs of smoke: That new recruit seems very proficient in mixing the chemicals.
        4 Big puffs of smoke: Wtf... who else is making bombs?!?
        Big puffs of smoke everywhere: Sh** we're being bombed!

      • by znrt ( 2424692 )

        Yes, blocking encryption might make it easy to catch low hanging fruit, but it will win a battle or two and lose the war. ISIS and Al Qaeda do quite well in communications with just old fashioned courier services.

        isis and al qaeda? you're watching way too much television, son.

        If cryptography is banned, how can console makers keep selling $300 worth of crap for an eight-hour playing game and make money?

        read tfa. this is about some complete morons' desire to make ciphered communication between users transparent to agencies, which is suicidal.

      • by smpoole7 ( 1467717 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @08:59PM (#49844549) Homepage

        > treaties override the US constitution as per precedent ...

        No. Only in certain very limited cases.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

        From that article: "No agreement with a foreign nation can confer power on the Congress, or on any other branch of Government, which is free from the restraints of the Constitution."

        And,

        "The concept that the Bill of Rights and other constitutional protections against arbitrary government are inoperative when they become inconvenient or when expediency dictates otherwise is a very dangerous doctrine and if allowed to flourish would destroy the benefit of a written Constitution and undermine the basis of our government."

      • Yes, blocking encryption might make it easy to catch low hanging fruit, but it will win a battle or two and lose the war. ISIS and Al Qaeda do quite well in communications with just old fashioned courier services.

        ISIS and Al Qaeda aren't the threats anti-encryption movement is intended to fight. As economy fares worse and worse, people are getting tired of watching the fat cats get richer while they're facing ever more severe austerity and insecurity. We're headed for another age of revolution, and the top

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        This isn't about organised bad guys at this stage. It's about control over normal individuals.

        NSA methods of collecting data en masse and parsing it automatically for certain elements is becoming hugely widespread after Snowden's revelations, as you can only fight that kind of fire with similar fire on state level.
        And wide;y used encryption used encryption cripples NSA-style methods, as automatic parsing becomes unfeasible in light of computational/subversive power needed to crack the encryption.

      • (treaties override the US constitution as per precedent)

        Wrong. [cornell.edu]

        I often wonder what possesses people to make blatantly inaccurate statements, such as yours here, on Slashdot. So help me out. Did you just make that up and assume it's true because it made sense to you, are you deliberately misinforming people, or are you some sort of crank?

      • by Arkan ( 24212 )

        (...) but as Iraq and ISIS has shown, extremely low tech means have gotten a group of insurgents armed with little more than pickup trucks, AKs and insane levels of brutality to actually form a caliphate which Europe officially recognizes as a sovereign nation and trading partner.

        You're going to have to provide sources for this as it's a rather plain accusation of supporting terrorism. As an European, I'm not pleased at all of someone spewing bullshit about Europe recognizing ISIS as anything more than a bunch of backward barbarian.

      • [...] a group of insurgents armed with little more than pickup trucks, AKs and insane levels of brutality to actually form a caliphate which Europe officially recognizes as a sovereign nation and trading partner.

        Do you have any proof for this statement (that Europe recognizes ISIS)?
        If not: Stop spreading such BS.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 05, 2015 @04:54AM (#49846351)

        Europe does not recognise IS, either as a sovereign nation or a trading partner. For one thing, "Europe" is not an entity. Do you mean each individual nation in Europe? The European Union? The European Economic Area? The European Free Trade Association?
        For another, no individual state and no European organisation has recognised IS.

    • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @06:21PM (#49843351)
      People will never stop using cryptography, laws or not.

      We went through this crap in the 80s, then the 90s, then again around 2000. It's just plain ridiculous, causes problems, and never works. Trying to "regulate" cryptography is like trying to regulate what a pencil is capable of writing.
      • If they ban it then the real bad guys will just use double secret cryptography.

      • Trying to "regulate" cryptography is like trying to regulate what a pencil is capable of writing.

        Yeah, and we go through this every decade because people like you keep giving them ideas. Sheesh.

      • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @07:00PM (#49843657) Journal

        Demonizing is the real ploy. They know it can't really be regulated, but if they get the public to vilify encryption users as criminals, mission accomplished! So far these methods are enjoying a small measure of success.

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          if they get the public to vilify encryption users as criminals

          It's really hard to vilify encryption users when everyone is a encryption user. Sign on to anything recently? Bam. You're now an villainous encryption user.

      • oh shit, now they are going to ban pencils. Thanks, Jane Q. for ruining pencils for us, this is why we cant have nice things....
      • The point is that by changing the laws they can use a $5 wrench to get your passwords rather than a 5 billion dollar super computer.

        • by symbolic ( 11752 )

          But they'll continue raising the specter of fear in order to justify funding for the $5 billion supercomputer anyway.

        • by johanw ( 1001493 )

          However, with the right protocols like perfect forward secrecy they can't even do that. They can use the $5 wrench but you will be unable to produce any usefull data whatever they do.

    • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @06:28PM (#49843413) Journal

      I don't know why this is necessary. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.

      On a completely unrelated note, please enjoy this funny cat video, as well as this image macro, poorly composited with entirely random jpeg compression artifacts around the lettering.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The NSA seems to be hiding a lot - maybe they have done something wrong?

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @05:38PM (#49842925) Journal

    Governments of the world must die!

    • Letting the corporations run the world as a collection of fiefdoms isn't better than what we have now.
    • Governments of the world must die!

      As an avid user of encryption without a point (I run a lot of encryption on the net noise just cuz I can), I love it when government get all in a panty-twist about it. Raise the awareness, make more people understand it's usefulness. Get the hell out of my communications.

  • think of the children!
  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @05:38PM (#49842929)

    The main link for this article is to what amounts to an opinion piece on some person's blog - it's completely unsourced, and really isn't news at all. The part about the NSA monitoring domestic internet communications without a warrant is probably a story, but it's tacked on to this blog post for no reason.

    • by __aabppq7737 ( 3995233 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @05:39PM (#49842937)
    • Because its their own site and they can post whatever they want?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDiPietro ( 3765499 )
      Here's a concept...

      Why don't you google "some person" and find out if they are credible.

      I know, having to do this kind of work oneself can be distasteful, so let me help you out here.

      Lauren Weinstein [wikipedia.org]
      • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @06:47PM (#49843539)

        Here's a concept...

        Why don't you google "some person" and find out if they are credible.

        I know, having to do this kind of work oneself can be distasteful, so let me help you out here.

          Lauren Weinstein [wikipedia.org]

        First: What the fuck is a "Technologist?" Personally, I reffer to myself as a Pornomancer, but what that means outside of my secret closet in the basement, I'm not sure.
        Secondly: Since when did having a 4 line wikipedia entry mean you were a notable person? This guy has a bigger article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J... [wikipedia.org]

        • A technologist is the same thing as an ethicist.i .e. someone with an opinion on a subject who wants to create a false sense of credibility
        • First: What the fuck is a "Technologist?" Personally, I reffer to myself as a Pornomancer, but what that means outside of my secret closet in the basement, I'm not sure.

          You're right, you should question who is saying this. Lauren has been around forever, editor of the Privacy Digest and frequent contributor to the Risks Digest. He has street cred in the world of privacy activism. Personally I don't always agree with what he has to say (I find him somewhat alarmist) but he's certainly earned my respect over

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You mean you want the editors of this site to do their jobs? In the good old days I recall a link to goatse making it to the front page.

    • The part about the NSA monitoring domestic internet communications without a warrant is probably a story,

      It would be. But the actual story is about the NSA monitoring international traffic, not domestic. Skip the bait, go to the NYT link.

    • by arcade ( 16638 )

      Sometimes I wonder whether the US has a similar troll-farm like Russia has. Where people get paid to post inane comments instead rational thought.

      If you actually aren't such a troll, it might be a good idea to read up on who the person is, and read up on the issue at hand.

  • Finally! There's something that apparently virtually all people around the world can actually agree upon. Unfortunately, it's on par conceptually with handing out hydrogen bombs as lottery prizes. If the drumbeat isn't actually coordinated, it might as well be.

  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @05:40PM (#49842959)

    Copy protection often uses a form of encryption. Do they want this to be banned as well?

  • In case you thought something happened, it didn't [theguardian.com]. All that showboating you saw in congress was exactly that.

  • WHY IS IT... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @05:49PM (#49843053) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that law enforcement seems to be so goddamned unprofessional and lazy these days?

    "ohh no, encryption is terrism"
    "clearing your browser history is destroying evimadence"
    "don't video me while I'm beating this black man"
    "the fourth amendment is a obsolete holdover from the 19th century"

    Put on your big girl pants and do you fucking job by the book you shifty slackers.

    • Because it is always easier to _blame_ some inanimate object or process then to actually _do_ something about it.

      No one really cares in holding then accountable and responsible. :-/

  • We'll just create new encryption mechanisms anyhow. After all, if somebody not the intended recipient can read it, what's the point?
  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @06:18PM (#49843311)
    just think of all the personal info that would be flying around the internets in the clear, including credit card and banking info, i doubt that encryption will die anytime soon
  • Unencrypt everything. Come governments show some integrity? Wait that is risky and would let those who do harm exploit you? Then why don't let others do the same?

  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @07:22PM (#49843823)

    Encryption (without back doors) for use by governments is absolutely essential to national security.

  • by randalware ( 720317 ) on Thursday June 04, 2015 @07:38PM (#49843965) Journal

    If encryption is outlawed, the no binary computer code should be allowed with out the source code.
    And a testsuite should be provided to ensure it is operating correctly.

    All computer hardware should have schematics, timing charts, and a complete service manual.

    All mechanical devices should include a blueprint and shop manual.

    All politicians finances, meetings, votes, lobbying activities, should be transparent, wether in office or campaining !

    And DNA can NO be copyrighted, we all share the same codebase !

    People are not created equally (physical or mental ), but we want to be treated equally by our social laws !

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat. c o m> on Thursday June 04, 2015 @08:46PM (#49844449) Journal

    .... then so can the bad guys.

    No matter how benign or well intentioned the governments might be (and I don't allege that they are, but even if they were)... they cannot stop absolutely everyone who is intent on disregarding the law from doing so before they have potentially caused damage or done real harm.

    Utilizing encryption that the government cannot break is no more of an announcement that one might be doing something illegal than wearing clothes in public is necessarily an announcement that there is something somehow physically wrong with a person's body (leaving aside the notion that there might be something wrong, my point is only that it is not a remotely infallible conclusion from the premise).

  • Time for the governments to die.

    Really, the government is supposed to fear its citizens, not the other way around...

  • No government will ever tolerate free speech. Despite the dreadful power in hand all governments fear the light of day and communications of the public.
  • Not only based on this post.

    If encryption, a mathematical method to protect information, can't be used because the user "could" be using it to hide illegal things ...
    • Prohibit to walk outside of your home, who knows if you will do something illegal today.
    • Don't show your opinions, somebody could misunderstand you to make something illegal.
    • Don't have any money, it could be used for illegal things.
    • Don't give the money to others, that could be an illegal transaction.
    • Don't accept anything from o
  • Maybe the internet services and banks should not use it exclusive for em.

  • Jura rapelcgvba vf onaarq, bayl pevzvanyf jvyy unir rapelcgvba.

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