I’ve said my piece as has everyone else on the idea of backdooring encryption in such a way that only the “good guys” can break it for the purposes of saving humanity, and haven’t really felt the need to keep harping away on it every time a new story comes up. But today I read that the friggin FBI director, who is unsurprisingly still harping away on it, is gathering supporting documentation so that in 2017 when the election is over we can have an “adult conversation” about his impossible premise. That made me laugh, so that’s as good a reason as any to bring it up again as a reminder that these idiots aren’t going away and are, in fact, still dangerous because power has a nasty tendency to trump reason far more often than it should.
Speaking at Tuesday’s 2016 Symantec Government Symposium in Washington, Comey banged on about his obsession with strong cryptography causing criminals to “go dark” and making themselves harder to catch. Comey said that once the election cycle is over, he will be resuming his push to force technology companies to bork their own products, and this time armed with plenty of supporting documentation.
“The conversation we’ve been trying to have about this has dipped below public consciousness now, and that’s fine. Because what we want to do is collect information this year so that next year we can have an adult conversation in this country,” he said, AP reports.
“We want to lock some people up, so that we send a message that it’s not a freebie to kick in the door, metaphorically, of an American company or private citizen and steal what matters to them. And if we can’t lock people up, we want to call (them) out. We want to name and shame through indictments, or sanctions, or public relation campaigns – who is doing this and exactly what they’re doing.”
Americans do have the right to a measure of privacy in their own homes, cars, or on their electronic devices, he said. But the government also has the right to invade that privacy when law enforcement feels it has probable cause.
This all sounds like nonsense. He’s not specific about who he’s wanting to lock up, but beyond criminals, it sure seems like he’s keen to have his adult conversation after having locked up folks from both the companies who make the encryption and the devices it protects. I may have that wrong, but I’ve literally read that 9 times and that’s what I’m coming up with.
But whoever he’s talking about, let’s think about what he’s asking for. To put it in physical terms again because that’s easy, what James Comey, head of one of the most powerful law enforcement organizations on planet earth is asking of tech types is that they build an uncrackable safe with one side missing, then through some kind of license agreement or voodoo magic make it so that nobody can stick his hand through the giant hole unless either the safe belongs to him or it has been determined by a third party that that same third party has only the best of intentions. As far as the bad guys are concerned, the contents of the safe are neither visible nor accessible and hole? What hole? I don’t see any hole, and nobody will ever tell me about a hole either deliberately or by accident.
If all of that sounds both absurd and impossible to you, that’s because it is. Congratulations on being either smarter or less disingenuous than the director of the FBI.
As for this adult conversation, I’ll leave the last word to the Register.
“How about f**k off – is that adult enough?”