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Harvard: No, Crypto Isn't Making the FBI Go Dark 59

Trailrunner7 writes: The FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have warned for years that the increased use of encryption by consumers is making surveillance and lawful interception much more difficult, impeding investigations. But a new study by a group of experts at Harvard's Berkman Center says those claims are largely overblown and that the IoT revolution will give agencies plenty of new chances for clear-channel surveillance.

"We argue that communications in the future will neither be eclipsed into darkness nor illuminated without shadow. Market forces and commercial interests will likely limit the circumstances in which companies will offer encryption that obscures user data from the companies themselves, and the trajectory of technological development points to a future abundant in unencrypted data, some of which can fill gaps left by the very communication channels law enforcement fears will 'go dark' and beyond reach," the Berkman Center report says.
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Harvard: No, Crypto Isn't Making the FBI Go Dark

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  • by Cyberpunk Reality ( 4231325 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @07:31PM (#51417825)
    You'd think that all that Ivy League brainpower would be able to figure out that the FBI's empty posturing is exactly that. Of course, it's also very possible that its kabuki all the way down.
    • I am shocked. Wow, are you telling me you should never assume your secrets are safe? That should be written down as a principal somewhere.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Harvard knows full well the FBI is lying, this entire study is Harvard's way of publicly calling them out.

    • Well, if memory serves, the head of the NSA stated publicly the other day that encryption is the new normal and that we should stop fighting it. If the head of the NSA is publicly stating that, then what's to say the FBI doesn't have a similar mindset...
  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @07:39PM (#51417863)

    He never envisioned that, instead of a totalitarian government imposing viewscreens on everyone and then pounding the populace into submission, one could just offer "reality programming" on the viewscreens. The populace pounds itself into submission, and all a government has to do is plug into the APIs that everyone has voluntarily installed in every room of every house. And if there wasn't a totalitarian government already in existence, well, preinstalled omnipresence and omniscience certainly makes a fertile field in which one can sprout.

    • by epine ( 68316 )

      Good thing the 0.01% are thinking ahead and managed to unanimously ratify a covert treaty spelling out precisely how to divvy up among themselves the spoils sprout.

      Otherwise, the fertile soil could turn into dense, tangled jungle underbrush instead of trusting up a solitary Mallorn tree fruiting at its spire a great, flaming eagle, as this narrative assumes and requires.

    • You're about 32 years late. Neil Postman made this observation in Amusing Ourselves to Death.
    • by shess ( 31691 )

      He never envisioned that, instead of a totalitarian government imposing viewscreens on everyone and then pounding the populace into submission, one could just offer "reality programming" on the viewscreens.

      http://highexistence.com/amusi... [highexistence.com]

  • I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Get fucked, FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies."

    If it's not both warranted and public, you shouldn't be able to get it in the first place.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @07:49PM (#51417921) Journal
    I guess I will continue to tolerate opening the front door with my own fingers and adjusting the thermostat once I arrive at home as the necessary struggles of clinging to the outdated ways.
  • My 0.02 (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @08:12PM (#51418027)
    I use OpenBSD both as a desktop and server operating system precisely because they will never bend to the likes of government. Cloud and software companies will gladly bend to the will of government. Say what you want about Theo de Raadt but the guy sticks to his principles like glue. After accusations of backdoors surfaced, the OpenBSD project did a comprehensive audit which revealed no secret backdoor and ended up correcting some bugs and other issues. I trust OpenBSD for all of my computing needs.
    • Don't forget that OpenBSD lost a shitload of DARPA funding because De Raadt correctly stated the war in Iraq was wrong.
    • It's a pity that Intel is willing to play ball then, as they probably made the chip set on your "secure" computer.
  • Don't worry about all the killer's emails and texts being encrypted--his washing machine is livecasting the blood-soaked t-shirt on agitate, and his toaster snapped a picture of him waking in with the knife.
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @08:39PM (#51418131) Journal
    At some point a person will be invited onto vast networked applications, clouds or other sharing or web 2.0 platform.
    Given the need to profit from users interactions the need to "reach out" will be the security forces way in.
    Encryption will not offer privacy on services, hardware and devices designed to track users habits.

    Privacy cannot be created if every movement is been logged.
    A journalist found to be sitting next to a whistleblower for 20 mins. Both having their cell phones on is not safe if they take notes on paper and have the phone powered (battery sealed in by design).

    Encryption that is weak by design or an OS that is created with gov approved trap doors and back doors is not encryption, just an expensive keylogger.
    Watch for the honey trap and any new best friends if using encryption and understanding its limitations on any network.

    If your a company or brand, fly in your staff, talk face to face in a vault, use all paper files. Any data on a connected server is in the public or a billing system thats used globally. Keep new projects and all readable data away from networks. Buying junk turn key encryption or cloud products from nations that allow designers to share your data with their gov, mil, other nations is not the best idea.
    Understand the positive and negative pressure a mil or gov will place on a supplier of encryption, cloud or other computer products for domestic or export use.

    Leadership in some brands will even weaken their products or collect all or allow a gov/mil in.
    Re the "bulk surveillance" and "targeted surveillance"
    Encryption without privacy is just a location to send gov or mil bespoke malware down to.
    Privacy with junk encryption is a plaintext message.
  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Washington State here. What with our recent legalization of pot, it's going to be fun watching the stoners after you tell them that their toaster is watching them.

    • was'nt it the smart tv which sends a live stream of the living room to servers in Korea?
      Now of course the IT guys there will do the same thing Snowden reported of the NSA folks, sharing the best among themselves. Sooner or later those find their way to a tumblr of xhamster, posted from there to your fav pr0n chat and that's how you get to lnow your wife's lovers.
      And vice versa.
      In the long run this will void a lot of hyprocisy

      • If a device is accessing your home WiFi, then at least some of this can be mitigated by having a decently intelligent and configurable router. That will have to do until APK can develop a hosts file we can upload to our TVs, microwaves and HVAC system.

        • gonna be fun then,
          for we'll have to root the fridge, the smart bulbs, the smoke detectors, each of them or we cannot change the hosts file.
          Now with evry downloaded firmware update your lightbulbs (each of them) go into blinking mode and, since they are rooted and cannot install the update silently, you have to address and fastboot them, one by one, and then re-root, and then reinstall the edited hosts file, and reboot the bulb.
          Possible, but not feasable

        • That's just a little bit on the silly side. You install the HOSTS file on the router, not every machine in the neighborhood. Tomato and DDWRT both have the capability, depending on precisely which version you've installed.

          DO NOT expect any commercial offerings with such configurability - certainly not consumer grade products.

          • Or run your own DNS server and run the entries there, where the performance is considerably better.

        • What if it accesses your neighbor's WiFi instead? It doesn't even have to be a neighbor who failed to secure his wifi - he might just have Comcast.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have warned for years that the increased use of encryption by consumers is making surveillance and lawful interception much more difficult, impeding investigations.

    I don't think there is ANYONE that actually believes this. There has already been many rebuttals on Comey's lies about prosecutions in jeopardy because of encryption. Every single one of the cases he has mentioned in interviews was successfully prosecuted without needing the encrypted cell phone data. Proper police work can bypass most encryption, but require warrants and probable cause (and most importantly, actual effort). This is where the problem is, not in encrypted data.

  • FBI going dark? (Score:5, Informative)

    by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @09:31PM (#51418401)
    Shouldn't that be the "terrorists" or "hackers" or whatever going dark? "Going dark" is slang for going silent, off-grid, etc. Nothing short of the destruction of the USA as a country, or a total de-funding the FBI, would ever make the FBI itself "go dark". That would have to be some pretty AMAZING crypto to make the FBI shut down all their offices, all their employees disappear, etc.
  • by birukun ( 145245 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @09:36PM (#51418437)

    Terms of Service (TOS) and people agreeing to give all their info up is going to do us in, as someone mentioned above about Orwell envisioned government oppression doing it, but it is actually people *giving up freedom* that is a much more devious thing. Gradual and it feels good to have all this convenience and security...... a warm blanket that someday may smother you......

  • First the Electric company put a "smart meter" on my house. At least they told me it was coming*.

    The other day, I noticed I had less clearance on my narrow side path of my house, to roll out my trash cans... all of a sudden, my gas meter has gotten "smart" on me - and its readout panel now an inch or so thicker thicker than it was before...

    Come to think of it... the Borg Logo [wikipedia.org] looks a lot like a gas utility logo...

    * - letter said they would come out at such and such a date, knock on the door, then c
    • Clearly your installer, like your UPS, sucks.

      It was done properly in our location -- knock on door, and I was able to observe the process.

  • People locking their front doors will force law enforcement to follow due process!

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten