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Obama: Government Can't Let Smartphones Be 'Black Boxes' ( 546

JoeyRox writes: President Obama said Friday that smartphones -- like the iPhone the FBI is trying to force Apple to help it hack -- can't be allowed to be "black boxes," inaccessible to the government. He believes technology companies should work with the government on encryption rather than leaving the issue for Congress to decide. He went on to say, "If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it's fetishizing our phones above every other value." Obama's appearance on Friday at the event known as SXSW, the first by a sitting president, comes as the FBI tries to force Apple to help investigators access an iPhone used by one of the assailants in December's deadly San Bernardino, California, terror attack. "The question we now have to ask is, if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system, where the encryption is so strong there's no key, there's no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?" Obama said. "If in fact you can't crack that at all, government can't get in, then everybody's walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket." He said compromise is possible and the technology industry must help design it.
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Obama: Government Can't Let Smartphones Be 'Black Boxes'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:03PM (#51682201)

    He seems pretty lax on allowing writs of attainder and not upholding the fourth amendment.

    • by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:11PM (#51682239) Journal

      But citizens are expected to accept the government as black boxes. Did I miss something?

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Yup, the Freedom of Information Act and all the millions the government spends to give you access.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:08PM (#51682547)

          Yup, the Freedom of Information Act and all the millions the government spends to limit your access.


        • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:52PM (#51682767) Homepage

          Snowden, Manning and Assange would beg to differ on that. In fact just using logic to figure out the insane psychopathic schemes can get you in trouble and investigated as say a Russian agent, ohh ahh. How many political activists have been publicly attacked by the government, who have turned false prosecution as persecution into a fine art. This all backed up by main stream media, joining in on the attack.

          No black boxes, will lets get rid of the secrets at the top first. That's exactly where the cause the most harm, kill the most people and work to actively destroy our democratic future. Apple wants to sell privacy and security because it gives them a huge marketing edge against M$ Windows anal probe 10, than fine, no problem. That M$ with it's lobbyists launches a completely corrupt attack against Apple to cripple Apple's ability to sell privacy and security, keeping the background conspiracy and collusion secret because they have basically sold us all out, is fucking awful and as evil as it gets. Corporations run government and this whole bullshit is nothing but M$ corporate manoeuvring, really lame corrupt shit.

        • Plus, all that black ink they place over all the redacted sections isn't free, either...
        • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <> on Saturday March 12, 2016 @03:55AM (#51683569) Journal

          I think I finally came up with a word, a single word, to describe Obama - and it's consistent throughout his nationally public career.


          I've been alive since 1957. He's the most condescending president I've ever seen. Sadly, I don't think most people have noticed it and I wasn't really able to put a word to it until just a few seconds ago when I was reading your post. I can think of lots of words but that one seems to sum it up nicely - at least for me.

          • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @12:08PM (#51684563)

            Yep, that's a very apt word to describe Obama. It started right after he got elected, when his Administration adopted the attitude "thanks for the help, we'll take it from here" towards all his supporters and those who elected him, and promptly did a 180 and adopted almost all the Bush Administration policies.

            And we see it again now with Hillary and her supporters: they're completely condescending towards Bernie supporters, with the attitude "ok, you've had your say, now you need to get behind Hillary so we can beat the Republicans, and all your concerns about her are silly".

            The modern Democratic Party seems to be simply full of condescension; no wonder Bernie supporters hate Hillary so much and standard Democratic politics. The party stands for corruption and condescension, and Bernie is about the only hope they have to turn it around.

            Oh well, I guess we can look forward to President Trump next year. Obama and Hillary seem to be doing everything they can to piss off everyone on the left or center who isn't a believer of elitist corporatist authoritarianism.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:12PM (#51682241) Homepage Journal

      In the case of the San Bernadino phone, that is in the FBI's lawful possession. They have the lawful authority to search the phone, but not the technical ability or (very likely) the legal authority to compel Apple to provide them with the technical ability.

      It's very important to get all this stuff straight, because if you get it wrong you either hamper the government in the exercise of its important legitimate duties, OR you open the door to all kinds of illegitimate activities.

      The government has all kinds of powers that are very easy to abuse; but generally (and this is a key point) it is constrained in using those powers. The police can bash down your door and invade your house with drawn weapons -- but only if they have a warrant. Now you may argue that even with warrants they're often abusing their power, and I'd agree with you. That doesn't mean I don't think they should ever be able to do that.

      • "That doesn't mean I don't think they should ever be able to do that."

        During the Posty's (Postees?) Awards, I would expect to see this one winning a category named "This year's most ambiguous lines."

      • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:28PM (#51682355) Homepage

        In the case of the San Bernadino phone, that is in the FBI's lawful possession.

        I've seen this statement made several times during this debate, and wonder where it came from. While the owner of the phone is dead, presumably it along with his (or her? do we know which shooter's phone it is?) other possessions passed to their estate. Perhaps it was taken as evidence, but evidence is taken for protection from alteration until it can be presented in court, not as the property of the state (and even in the case of evidence, what trial is it being held for? We know who did it, and it is unlikely they will ever be indicted since they died in the act). Is this some interesting new application of civil forfeiture?

        • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:12PM (#51682569)

          The phone was issued to him by his employer, the County of San Bernardino. The government owns the phone. I presume they've surrendered it to the FBI voluntarily.

      • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:29PM (#51682361) Homepage

        The idea that the FBI does not have the technical capability to do this is total bollocks and has been disproven many times. In fact there are private companies who have already offered to help them do it. However the process is expensive and not scale able en masse - which is exactly why the FBI is pursuing this case. They have no interest in unlocking ONE phone. They want to unlock ALL phones, whenever they want.

        • "Many times" is more than I have read. Snowden has said the inability is BS. Combined, it means nothing.


        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:53PM (#51682773)

          "They want to unlock ALL phones, whenever they want."

          That is EXACTLY why our phones and other devices NEED to be "black boxes" that NO ONE can break into without the encryption key. And there should be no legal way to force anyone to reveal an encryption key!

          What these folks are ignoring (and hoping that we don't know about or care about) is the FACT that a backdoor for government is a backdoor for hackers and corrupt corporations as well!!! Encryption that is compromised by backdoors cannot be secure from everyone but the government. Others will always find and use those backdoors. The only answer is for there to be no backdoors! NONE! EVER!!

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:32PM (#51682369)

        the legal authority to compel Apple to provide them with the technical ability.

        IANAL and even I can tell it doesn't work that way. Since when can the government grab a doctor and order him to perform an autopsy for a trial? Since when can the government grab a lab tech and order him to run lab tests? The government sources its OWN people for this - the coroner works for the state and the court, and as such has the last word - the state's word. While the government might not actually run labs itself it contracts them to work for it under a voluntary business arrangement, not using courts to bully them into it.

        If the government does not have the technical ability, it's up to the government to hire - HIRE someone who does. Usually a third party. Not use a court order to try to "force" someone who does. Apple has done no wrong, Apple did not commit the crime, Apple has absolutely no responsibility for what happened. Why do they have to be "forced" into anything, let alone give up trade secrets and IP?

        • Does the government have the authority to commandeer Apple's code-signing key so that the phone will accept software built by the government?

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Not an American or a lawyer but in a similar common law jurisdiction. One example is the case of an accident with unconscious driver where the police think alcohol was a factor. They can phone a Judge, swear they think alcohol was involved, get a search warrant and ask a Doctor or medical technician to remove blood. The Doctor or medical technician is free to say yes or no.
          So with a warrant, they can ask but not force. They also have to take 2 blood samples and make one available to the defense for indepe

      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        It's really simple. Your phone is yours, and should do what you say. If you opt out of managing your phone (as San Bernadino did), and allow your murderous employee to be the guy with the encryption code because it's easier to not pay an admin, then you pay the obvious and logical price. Using that to try to strip encryption globally- and make no mistake, that is what the FBI is requesting, and what Obama JUST STATED- is ruinous.

        The President of the United States, a constitutional scholar, just implied t

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's a good thing a democrat is saying this. Can you imagine the horrors of a republican saying the same thing?

    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:59PM (#51682501)

      Obama is not a constitutional lawyer. He edited the Harvard Law review but contributed no articles and had no profile or discernible influence.

    • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Saturday March 12, 2016 @11:34AM (#51684423) Journal

      Anyone who still supported that asshole after the first time he signed a bill extending the PATRIOT act (which he knows goddamned well is unconstitutional) is an idiot, a hypocrite, or both.

      "Hope and change", my ass.


  • by ebonum ( 830686 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:04PM (#51682205)

    Ok. So I blow up a few city blocks. In Obama's mind, I can't be arrested unless they can read my cell phone? Or does he just mean that the police will say: "We can't open the phone! Guess we should give up and go to the bar to have a few beers. No point in even trying to do an investigation. It's hopeless."

    • by dbreeze ( 228599 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:41PM (#51682419)

      "The question we now have to ask is, if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system, where the encryption is so strong there’s no key, there’s no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?" Obama said. "If in fact you can’t crack that at all, government can’t get in, then everybody’s walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket."

      It blows my mind that a Harvard constitutional law scholar can either so utterly fail at logical thought or blatantly spew state control rhetoric. I didn't vote for him but was mildly optimistic that he might be the real deal. He's just the latest snake oil merchant in a long line of 'em.....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:04PM (#51682207)

    No doubt there are already backdoors in baseband processors and of course zero-day exploits. This controversy is to create the impression that government must impose draconian laws to rein in the privacy-maximalists in Silicon Valley. In reality SV are the NSA's willing accomplices.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:05PM (#51682211)


    I have a right to encrypt whatever the fuck I want, and the government cannot compel me to testify against myself by giving them the encryption key. Fifth Amendment.

    Apple has a right to make whatever speech it wants -- or, crucially, to refrain from speaking. In particular, it has a right not to tell the government its signing key, either. First Amendment.

    Totalitarian shitbag Obama needs to back the fuck off. At this point he's even worse than George "goddamn piece of paper" W. Bush!

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:18PM (#51682287)'s_formulation []"It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer".

      We have about 320 MILLION people in the USofA. Obama wants ALL of them to have crap security in case a "child pornographer" gets away.

      Fuck you. I voted for you twice but you're fucking wrong on this. And you're a piece of shit for trying to tie it to "think of the children".

      I'll support more cops/FBI/etc to make sure all the other approaches are covered. But you do NOT harm the 320 MILLION people because you are too lazy to find the few criminals who MIGHT be using encryption.

    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:22PM (#51682305)

      re: obama vs bush; its impossible to say what the other would do if things were switched.

      its clear that people are affected by what is currently going on. if bush were in office now, its not likely that he would act any differently.

      I'll go further; pick your favorite president - ANY of them (past, living, whatever) and would you honestly believe that they would deny the state its *desire* for 'total info awareness'?

      its not about a person, anymore. abs power and all that - its true. no one can resist that much power.

      and it goes beyond culture, too; the UK and oz are also heading full speed into tyranny; and a lot of the ROW is watching and wanting their piece of the surveillance pie, too.

      we have a human issue, here; and like 'rich vs poor', I don't think this will EVER end. the ones in control always seek to keep control; and info is now part of that, to them. they will never ever give this quest up.

      great, huh? more wasted time and energy, having to always, continually fend off the bad guys (in this case, ALL our governments and big companies) just to keep things somewhat sane and somewhat old-school normal. damn. what a waste.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bug1 ( 96678 )

      Its not just the US constitution, its the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that he is disrespecting.

      "Article 19.
      Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

    • by dbreeze ( 228599 )

      Don't sugar coat it dear Sir, tell 'em how the hell it is. Git 'em.

      I don't think anything short of mass crowds overrunning the centers of government and acquiring the info on what is really going on will change anything though....

      Ladies and Gentlemen, don't expect the powers, principalities, and the spiritually wicked holding high offices to relent. You'll know Trump is just another ringer when he makes into office alive. There are Simon Barsinister types in this world, they're in charge, and they're some r

    • If I agree that in the San Bernardino's case Apple should give the FBI what they are asking for. I totally disagree with what Obama is saying now. He is asking for a backdoor and weakened security to allow future investigators to access what they want despite the fact future devices could and should be designed to prevent access to anyone but the owner.

      The San Bernardino's case is different since in that particular case, it is feasible due to the particular iPhone model and the fact the security is such App

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:05PM (#51682217) Homepage Journal
    ...but Fuck You mr. Obama!!

    Who is he to say what privacy and levels of encryption that the US citizens should be privy to?

    Sure if you have impenetrable phones, some criminals will use them....

    But do we get rid of all other devices criminals might use?

    Do we round all blades and dull all knives, because some criminal might stab someone?

    Do we stop letting people drive cars...because some folks might use one as a weapon and kill lots of folks?

    No...we don't need any more of the Nanny State mentality, that the Govt knows best and needs full access and control over the population in order to care and protect it from itself.

    It is not the job of the citizenry, nor the companies of the US to go out of their way to make things easy for the police/powers that be. You work for us, we don't work for you.

    Sorry, but FU....

  • Sometimes people get confused in their loyal devotion to a particular party.

    The elephants and donkeys keep rotating as President while we angrily unelect the responsible ruling party approximately every eight years.

    But neither side trusts the public that votes it in or is disinterested in its' surveillance.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:08PM (#51682225)

    From the Engadget article: Obama said we'll have to figure out "how do we have encryption as strong as possible, the key as secure as possible and accessible by the smallest pool of people possible, for a subset of issues that we agree is important."

    If we give the government a back door to our data, it's only a matter of months before criminals and other nation states have that key. I've pointed this out before, but - just in the past twelve months, both the IRS and OPM had extremely sensitive information very thoroughly hacked.

    You simply can't design back doors into an secure system and expect it to remain secure. We had these discussions before, back in the Clipper Chip days! To the best of my knowledge, the laws of mathematics haven't changed over the past two decades.

    • To the best of my knowledge, the laws of mathematics haven't changed over the past two decades.

      No, but every two years we get an election with a new batch of congress-critters, and every four years an election with a new commander-in-chief.

      While some people stick around for many years, the institutional memory of government is extremely short.

    • by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:14PM (#51682579) Journal

      If we give the government a back door to our data, it's only a matter of months before criminals and other nation states have that key.

      I'm not even concerned about that. If the US Government has the key, that alone is bad enough. This is the same government that has systematically attacked developers [] as a group. Not terrorists. Software developers. They've launched the digital equivalent of a drone strike on users of this very site. [] They've developed malware that looks like developer tools. [] Coincidently, just such malware [] showed up to attack Chinese developers.

      I am just gob smacked that Obama can show up at SXSW for any other reason than to apologize to us. He wants us to dig our own mass graves. Here is your shovel developer. Start digging.

    • Best idea other than not have one might be to get a copycat phone from China. I figure there's a lot less threat if the Chinese government spies on me.

      Snowden’s leaks have complicated the encryption issue, Obama said, by "elevating people’s suspicions" of government surveillance.

      I think he meant 'validating' not 'elevating.'

    • by argumentsockpuppet ( 4374943 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:42PM (#51682717)

      Three points

      • You can't legislate away math
      • Trying to is bad for the US
      • Phone encryption doesn't work like you think, so this is worse than you think

      1) Encryption exists because the math has been done and is widely available. You don't have to be Apple or Google to use strong encryption. Personally I like dm-crypt with LUKS, but there are plenty of options available to secure data that don't depend on approval by the US or any government. Obama was just wrong, we've long had "black boxes" inaccessible to the government and it is literally impossible to keep them from happening. The tools already exist outside the US to securely encrypt data. If you're determined, you can even create "black box" encryption for your personal paper journal: [] or []

      2) If US companies are legislated into creating back doors into their systems, then those companies will lose potential sales because a significant number of people in the world don't trust the US government. While people who really want both security and a particular brand of phone could find ways to get both despite legislated back doors, most won't because there will be easier alternatives from companies that aren't subject to US law. When Samsung decides they won't create phones subject to US restrictions, they'll sell them everywhere Apple phones used to be sold, which isn't great for Samsung if they lose US sales, but will be disastrous for US companies that would have gotten those sales. (And hired people in the US and paid taxes in the US.)

      3) Each phone has a key which is encrypted with your passcode and a unique id on the phone. When you change your password, the key doesn't change, all that changes is what code it is encrypted with. There are two ways that the government could legislate access to that phone: First every phone could be required to use one of a few keys retained by the manufacturer. If any of those keys are ever shared, every phone using those keys is no longer effectively encrypted. Second, the manufacturer could keep a copy of each key used by each phone so that any one key would decrypt only one phone. You can split up the keys into parts and store them separately and offline and with different parts of each key held by different entities. That would mean that in order to secure any phone, law enforcement would have to subpoena multiple parties for each part of the key specific to the phone they want to decrypt. Either method fails for the government if a criminal cares to put in the effort, since all the criminal has to do is get the key stored in the phone originally to be changed, usually a fairly trivial hack. The downside is that the countermeasure is to have the current key always electronically transmitted home, which would likely be required, making alternatives used and US distrust more and more likely to be problems. So it isn't true that "it's only a matter of months before criminals and other nation states have that key" but the other issues are just as bad.

    • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:35PM (#51682917) Journal

      If we give the government a back door to our data, it's only a matter of months before criminals and other nation states have that key.

      If we give the government a back door to our data, it's only a matter of months before *OTHER* criminals and other nation states have that key.


  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:11PM (#51682235) Homepage

    is there are going to be glaring back doors to devices?

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:11PM (#51682237) Homepage Journal

    Yes. Yes we can.

    Because the government has no legitimate reason to demand ad-hoc access to any device at any time.

    If this means, on occasion, that the government can't get into a given criminal's devices? C'est la vie.

    The government couldn't get someone like Al Capone for mob activity or running illegal alcohol.
    They had to be creative in how they got at him.

    Basically the government isn't arguing that they CANNOT get the data.

    Just that it's HARD to. And they want an easy back door into systems.

    And they're now willing to completely compromise user safety on more than just phones.

    The government needs to be told "Fuck No" as forcibly as possible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:12PM (#51682255)

    "how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?" He sound more like Cameron every day. Wanting a backdoor to every phone to "disrupt" a terrorist plot", i.e. Everybody are tapped into permanently and software flags you as an active shooter if you visited a gun store last week rent a van and read a news article on

    This is crazy, we must not let it happen.

  • that lets people post info on where, when and what a politician any public servant is doing on a given day while working on public time.

  • What do they think the 4th Amendment is about? Oh, I forgot, they could care less as withness the NSA actions and what is still allowed. Encrypt and encrypt deep regardless of what these un-American clowns say and regardless of what companies like Apple do or do not do. It is your right to be secure in your papers and effects including your digital effects.

    • The Fourth Amendment isn't the right one to hang our hats on here, as it has that exception about "warrants" or "probable cause."

      The right argument to make is that code is speech, thus the First Amendment holds that the government cannot either censor a software author by restricting him from writing encryption without a backdoor, or compel speech by forcing him to disclose his private signing key.

      The other right argument to make is that the Fifth Amendment holds that anyone is free to use unbreakable encry

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:18PM (#51682281)

    Um... by catching them in the act of making or distributing child pornography? Maybe?

  • Given that if the FBI really wanted to, they could get in, I think the key here is that the TSA needs to get into all the iphones. There could be child porn there.
  • by Pulzar ( 81031 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:26PM (#51682337)

    Why is the phone a "do not cross" line? This is the one that is making people here on Slashdot compare the government to nazis? All this time we've been living in the world where the government can get a legal warrant to enter your house, look through your things, take pretty much anything they deem suspicious, get into your car, your workplace... This happens every single day.

    But, unlocking your phone and looking at your data is a whole another level of intrusion that causes extreme amounts of anger and comparisons to one of the worst government regimes ever?

    I don't get this. I mean, I don't see anybody protesting that if I lock my house, government can't come in, even with a warrant, and my house and its contents are way more private to me than my phone.

    Could somebody please elaborate on why the phone is a special case here?

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @12:37AM (#51683123) Journal
      Mainly because if the government can break into your phone, then other people can.
      You wouldn't accept if the government required no locks on doors, and this is basically what they are asking, but with phones.
  • Don't make them anything like flight recorders, which readily document and give up all details and information in a standardized way to any interested party.

  • by gringer ( 252588 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:32PM (#51682375)

    Indeed, smartphones shouldn't be black boxes. The source code should be available to all, especially the people who actually own the phones.

    ... oh, you wanted an exception just for the government? Sorry, I'm not sold on that.

  • As long as the government can keep secrets then so too the people. If we are true to democracy and principles of this nation, then it can't be both ways.

  • That's funny, coming from the head of our government in a time where it is painfully obvious they want to keep all of the records of their "questionable" activities in a black box. A month doesn't seem to go by where some branch is claiming that the public doesn't need to know about their tracking of phone calls, internet communications, random planting of GPS devices, lying in court about the source of evidence (parallel construction), destruction of documents, keeping of records that are required by law

  • It's actually quite reasonable and correct to be absolutely for or against certain things... rape for instance. "Oh just this one time" doesn't justify anything whatsoever, nor do polite words minimize the offense.

  • It's a reasonable sounding argument, and it is true that it "does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years". But we don't live in the world we lived in 200 and 300 years ago. Arc of history and all that.

    I thought wishing for a return to a mythical past that was better than today was a conservative value.

  • "Strike a balance" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:48PM (#51682459)

    What Obama...what most politicians...don't seem to understand is that there is no balance. The phone is either secure...or it isn't. And if it isn't, the police will not be the only ones cracking it.

  • by waTeim ( 2818975 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:50PM (#51682469)
    Good ol' child pornographers and terrorists, the ubiquitous go-to for governments when they want to convince their citizens intrusion of their privacy is reasonable. There should be a variant of Godwin's Law for this; as such is a sure sign they have no reasonable justification. As a student of the Constitution, the President should know that the 4th amendment exists to guard personal liberty against a not-always-trustworthy federal government, and if the last few years have proven anything, it's proven we sure can't trust the FBI.
    • True, but keep in mind the boogeymen change over time. Remember, it used to be "communists". So long as the government has a fear-inducing target, they can acquire more power.

      Sometimes it's even done for the right reasons (a desire to catch criminals), but all too often it seems at heart a desire to build bureaucratic fiefdoms just for the sake of acquiring more power and wealth. Look at how many local police forces now have armed-to-the-teeth (meaning well-funded) paramilitary-like squads? Are people a

  • So the president is ready to drive the tech segment off to greener pastures, he may get his wish sooner then he thinks. I am sure there are a number of countries ready for our tech companies with open arms and "friendlier climates". Apple might be able to buy one of these locals. I can see it now. Appletania, Microsoftlandia, Google emirates, a whole new Geo-political landscape with their own tech focused mutual defense alliance. Go ahead Mr. President place your bets and give the wheel a spin you can chan

  • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @09:58PM (#51682495) Journal

    Obama thinks there should be at least some mechanism for getting access -- perhaps something like a partial white-box implementation. So it sounds like Obama's administration is more favor of a half-black box here.

  • "He believes technology companies should work with the government on encryption rather than leaving the issue for Congress to decide."

    If Obama said that, what is he really saying?

  • I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:15PM (#51682593)
    How did law enforcement solve crimes and gather intelligence before we had smartphones? I guess all the child pornographers and terrorists got away clean.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:21PM (#51682621)

    ... the government thinks your front door is too hard to kick in.

  • Black boxes (Score:5, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:28PM (#51682657) Journal

    Why's it always gotta be about race with this guy?

  • ... when the government has master keys. [] The most damning part of the article:

    The TSA-approved luggage locks were never very high security devices to begin with. “I’m not sure anyone relied on these kinds of locks for serious security purposes,” he says. “I find it’s actually quicker to pick the TSA’s locks than to look for my key sometimes.”

    Given how the government does "security" for us (IRS, OPM hacks), I don't want them anywhere near access to my phone.

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @10:49PM (#51682745)
    (1) The government doesn't have any choice in the matter. Cryptography is so easy to implement these days that anyone who wants to can use it. (2) I guess Obama's mask has come off now, and his isn't trying to hide his complete disdain for civil liberties and privacy. Obviously, his original campaign promises were just lies.
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @01:03AM (#51683191)

    Snowden’s leaks have complicated the encryption issue, Obama said, by "elevating people’s suspicions" of government surveillance.

    Duh! When a Peeping Tom gets caught looking in the neighbours' windows over and over again, the whole neighbourhood's suspicions are justifiably elevated. And when it's discovered that ol' Tom is taking pictures and sharing them with other voyeurs, the rest of the neighbourhood isn't just 'suspicious', it's both fearful and angry!

    So Mr. President, are you saying that our neighbourhood would be better off if our good neighbour Ed simply hadn't told us what's going on? And, let me get this straight, you're saying that we ought not to be allowed BY LAW to put up blinds and drapes in our homes? Or that if we do have them, ol' Tom has a legal right to open them whenever he damned well pleases? It's certainly VERY difficult to interpret your words in any other way. And if you would disagree with my characterization of various government agencies as Peeping Toms, I'd very much like to hear your argument; frankly, I doubt that you can come up with anything even remotely convincing. As for our private information being "accessible by the smallest number of people possible for the subset of issues that we agree is important", well, that's more than a little vague, don't you think? Not to mention ambiguous, and ultimately meaningless as well. What you'd really like to say is "just trust us!"; but you realize on some level that you have already destroyed the trust you want from us, so you use weasel words to skirt the issue.

    Barack Obama, I believe that you are being brazenly, foolishly, cynically disingenuous in a manner unbecoming of "the leader of the free world". You are drastically lowering the bar of leadership while you simultaneously debase and undermine the freedom you swore to protect. Shame on you, Mr. President.

  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @01:56AM (#51683327)

    Computers can easily be rendered "a black box". This has been the case to a great degree since the 90s, and absolutely since the mid-aughties.

    Here's the logical results of this kind of shitbaggery coming to pass:

    1)- When you mandate the mobile guys make backdoors, this will also mean that you can't EVER have an open source phone. Because the open source stuff won't have a backdoor.
    2)- Since phones are just computers, this law, however it is written, can be interpreted to apply to ANY general purpose computer. You can wholesale ban all encryption that way, but most importantly, you can and MUST ban open source firmware, open source OS, every single thing.

    These things aren't "slippery slopes" or hypotheticals- any law that is passed WILL INEVITABLY be that. It may not be ENFORCED as that immediately, but I could claim your PC is a phone by any legal definition the government sees fit to use.

    Literally no presidential candidate is on the correct side of this issue, and neither is the president. Congress hasn't been clueless... yet. Surprisingly.

  • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @02:41AM (#51683445)

    FTA: , then everybody’s walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket."

    If it is in my pocket, no Government authority has the Constitutional right to access it without my express permission, or actual probable cause.

    Obama, why do you hate the US Constitution?

  • Absolutely Right! (Score:4, Informative)

    by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer&earthlink,net> on Saturday March 12, 2016 @04:15AM (#51683615)

    Let's not have all these technological black boxes where the government can't see what's inside. We need to get to the bottom of this. People's lives are at stake! The FBI must investigate, leave no byte unexposed.


    You mean we aren't talking about the Clintons' e-mail server? Because all this talk of encrypted sensitive data, threats to our security, and what not I thought for certain this was about the former Secretary Clinton not letting the FBI look at her old e-mails, those created while she was under the employment of the federal government.

    Sure, let's talk about what secrets the people can keep from the government but not about what secrets the government wants to keep from the people.

  • by Sqreater ( 895148 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @09:31AM (#51684137)

    This is the same president that called citizens trying to influence their elected representatives "noise" in his latest State of the Union Address. This is the same president that called the United States military, "my military" during the Syrian crisis. This is the same president that tries to rule by Executive Order because he doesn't understand or accept the legislative power of Congress. Now he tells us we must allow the government to access every communication we have in case we are child pornographers or terrorists. This is a man who doesn't understand or accept personal rights, freedoms, and privacy, and their cost. This is a king.

    Rights and freedoms are defended not just on the battlefields of our nation's wars, but in our daily lives. And when we can no longer pay the daily price for freedom and rights we can no longer have them. We have become a nation of cowards unwilling to pay the price of rights. Because of hyper-liberals like the president we must raise the suffering of individuals, however few, above the rights and freedoms of the 320 million Americans who live today, and the perhaps billions to come. Rights and freedoms are controversial because they cost. And rights and freedoms, once lost, are only regained by blood. That is a lesson of history..

    You cannot save the last life without destroying every right and freedom we have, and not even then. This is a sad truth that adults in a true democracy should understand.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"