US Intelligence Agencies Angry At France Over Three Strikes; Worried It Will Drive Encryption Usage

from the strange-bedfellows dept

You may recall that, in the fight over the Digital Economy Act in the UK, those who were against the three strikes proposal had an unexpected ally: law enforcement. They were specifically worried that a three strikes plan would lead to more people using encryption, which would make it harder to spy on everyone.

It looks like the same thing happened in France. With Hadopi now underway and sending out its first warning letters, the news is leaking out that US intelligence agencies, like the NSA, “yelled” at the French government over the plan, for the same reason. They know that a three strikes law will only increase encryption usage, making it more difficult to spy on people. For a group that wants to wiretap the internet, that’s a problem:

US intelligence agencies are concerned that it will only encourage file-sharers and others to arm themselves with the same encryption tools used by criminal networks, making their job of detecting threats and illegal activity that much harder as the use of such tools goes mainstream.

During a recent cryptography symposium in France they made their concerns known to their French counterparts, taking the time to “yell” at their French counterparts about Hadopi during a coffee break and make it clear that they are not happy.
They think it’s wrong to pass legislation to fight the simple, though illegal, exchange of movies and music because it means file-sharers will simply equip themselves with strong encryption tools to avoid detection, and make both the copyright holders and the govt losers in the end.

Some are saying this is why we’ve never seen any real progress on three strikes laws in the US. Even as the Justice Department and the entertainment industry have a pretty cozy relationship these days, the law enforcement folks recognize that greater encryption makes it more difficult to spy on everyone.

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Comments on “US Intelligence Agencies Angry At France Over Three Strikes; Worried It Will Drive Encryption Usage”

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Johnny says:

Somewhat different I think

I think it’s more a case that encrypted communications, even if they can’t be read can still be traced. Someone using encryption may therefore become suspect. When millions of people start to use it for mundane things like file sharing, how do you find suspicious communications? Plus it’s not only encryption, a whole new range of technologies will appear to obfuscate or even hide the sources and destinations of data traffic. Spy agencies won’t even know who’s communicating with each other.

Hulser (profile) says:

What's good for spooks is not good for the vice squad?

So, the government knows that it’s better to let stupid criminals use open forms of communication rather than driving them underground where it’s harder to monitor them? Maybe the NSA should have a talk with the US attorneys general who are going after Craig’s List and explain this simple concept.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: No doubt

If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him

-Cardinal Richelieu

I believe you’re paraphrasing a very old and debunked argument. Only a totalitarian state with reason to fear its citizens would have any need for such a machination.

(or my sarcasm detector failed.)
; P

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No doubt

Encryption is not a problem,just outlaw it

The evil hackers would love it. A lot of today’s use of encryption is explicitly to deter them. Wireless encryption, SSL/TLS/HTTPS, SSH, and many others, all created to protect against evil hackers.

In fact, we do not use encryption enough today. Since most http traffic is not yet encrypted, some evil hackers write malware which hijacks http traffic from other machines on the same network, and injects evil browser exploits into the web pages returned.

Will Sizemore (profile) says:

I don't think encryption will make a marked difference

I don’t know the technology that governments use to conduct these alleged taps, but I can say with a certain degree of confidence that increasing personal security on the internet by using encryption IS the way to go, but governments will ALWAYS find a way to make that happen.

Its not exactly the same thing, but does anyone remember the capabilities of the pre-ban Steganos Security Suite? As I understand things, NSA couldn’t crack it so the software is banned in the US without some sort of key that NSA can use to see exactly what’s in a file.

Consider an adaptation of Newton’s Third Law; To every security measure taken, there is always an equal and opposite measure will be fabricated. Without a lock, who would have created a pick, or better yet; the bolt cutters?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not necessarily, a keylogger can be deployed remotely and even some governments want to make that legal(France with LOPSI 2).

SSL can be subverted if you have access to the authority issuer of that key which is easy for the U.S. government because almost all the big ones are in the U.S. so in theory one could send fake updates and say they are the original company.

But that would be bad for sales if it ever got out in the public, who would buy any piece of American software knowing they could get something nasty from another government.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“SSL can be subverted if you have access to the authority issuer of that key which is easy for the U.S. government because almost all the big ones are in the U.S. so in theory one could send fake updates and say they are the original company.”

If you gen your own keys it will take a huge amount of resources to crack the encryption.

out_of_the_blue says:

Anyone remember back when NSA surveillance wasn't admitted?

Now they’re openly saying it’s an over-riding consideration. A de facto police state spying on everything you do on the net, even positioned as *saving* you from 3-strikes rules. Whew. We keep sliding into the rabbit hole, and most now don’t even remember last week’s lies.

Anonymous Coward says:


Version: PGP Desktop 10.0.0 – not licensed for commercial use:
Charset: utf-8


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