By Demanding Backdoors to Encryption, U.S. Government is Undermining Global Freedom and Security

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.23.56 AMOne of the biggest debates happening at the intersection of technology and privacy at the moment revolves around the U.S. government’s fear that the American peasantry may gain access to strong encryption in order to protect their private communications. Naturally, this isn’t something Big Brother wants to see, and the “solution” proposed by the status quo revolves around forcing technology companies to provide a way for the state to have access to all secure communications when they deem it necessary.

Many technology experts have come out strongly against this plan. Leaving aside the potential civil liberties implications of giving the lawless maniacs in political control such power, there’s the notion that if you create access for one group of entitled people, you weaken overall security. Not to mention the fact that if the U.S. claims the right to such privileged access, all other countries will demand the same in return, thus undermining global privacy rights and technology safeguards.

We are already seeing this play out in embarrassing fashion. Once again highlighting American hypocrisy and shortsightedness, as well as demonstrating that the U.S. government does’t actually stand for anything, other than the notion that “might means right.” Sad.

From Motherboard:

When the US demands technology companies install backdoors for law enforcement, it’s okay. But when China demands the same, it’s a whole different story.

The Chinese government is about to pass a new counter terrorism law that would require tech companies operating in the country to turn over encryption keys and include specially crafted code in their software and hardware so that chinese authorities can defeat security measures at will.

Technologists and cryptographers have long warned that you can’t design a secure system that will enable law enforcement—and only law enforcement—to bypass the encryption. The nature of a backdoor door is that it is also a vulnerability, and if discovered, hackers or foreign governments might be able to exploit it, too.

Yet, over the past few months, several US government officials, including the FBI director James Comey, outgoing US Attorney General Eric Holder, and NSA Director Mike Rogers, have all suggested that companies such as Apple and Google should give law enforcement agencies special access to their users’ encrypted data—while somehow offering strong encryption for their users at the same time.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Trevor Timm, the co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told Motherboard. “If the US forces tech companies to install backdoors in encryption, then tech companies will have no choice but to go along with China when they demand the same power.”

A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Motherboard.

“It’s stunningly shortsighted for the FBI and NSA not to realize this,” Timm added. “By demanding backdoors, these US government agencies are putting everyone’s cybersecurity at risk.”

For related articles, see:

So Who is James Comey, Obama’s Nominee to Head the FBI?

How the NSA Paid Security Firm $10 Million to Promote Flawed Encryption

Britain’s “War on Terror” Insanity Continues – David Cameron Declares War on Encryption

Flashback to 2007: Obama’s Speech on Warrantless Wiretapping

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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6 Comments

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  1. Whichever agency wields this kind of power becomes THE power in the land. No elected official, no judge, no prosecutor, no cabinet appointee, no general or admiral can possibly match the overwhelming power of an all-knowing, all-seeing entity. There was a reason why the Gestapo in Nazi Germany and NKVD in Soviet Russia were universally feared. They had the goods on everyone, and did as they pleased. So it is with the NSA. Anyone who aspires to political power must face their scrutiny. Anyone who dares challenge their authority must face their wrath. Anyone who wants to do business must risk being compromised by their spies. Anyone who innovates must buy protect or face being ruined by premature exposure or espionage on behalf of a firm that paid for protection. One can imagine that future NSA men shall be the super-men of the SS type: wealthy, powerful elites in an elite organization. One could see the NSA as a proving ground for absolute loyalty to the regime: grovel for a position in the powerful organization, get blessed from on high, move on to other positions in business and government, doing what’s best for the NSA first, and for the business or government next — and being wealthy for it. Naturally, this can all be stopped — instantly, at the stroke of a pen — if only the President and Congress were not already at the complete mercy of this sinister group…

  2. If you don’t like the NSA then stop paying for it.

  3. “Undermining global freedom and security”? LOL. They are the biggest terrorist organization on the planet. Their product is fear, murder, suppression, mayhem, and total chaos which can be summed up as crimes against humanity on a scale the world has never seen before.

    As Orgorg has eloquently stated above “stop paying for it”. JUST SAY NO.

  4. They had the information, that ‘Could have’ stopped 911 from
    happening, & THEY STILL FAILED!!! What the f makes them
    think a bunch of additional info will help, when THEY can’t even
    use the simple stuff efficiently? Would YOU give the keys to
    YOUR Sports car too a Retarded 3rd grader? If NO,they why
    would you give the FBI encryption keys? They’re the same
    thing!!!

  5. Typical Federal Government meeting of ‘Minds’…..Hey Joe, you
    hear about these Cell phone things yet? Yeah bill I did, Lets
    Ruin them!!!! What about computers, Everyone REALLY seems
    to like them…Yeah, We should ruin them too!!!!

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