NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton Latest To Complain About Phone Encryption
from the law-enforcement-still-trending-at-100%-opposed dept
The latest law enforcement official to enter into the “debate” over phone encryption is none other than NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, most famous around Techdirt for being “not Ray Kelly.” Bratton sees eye-to-eye with pretty much every other critic of Google’s and Apple’s move to provide encryption by default: this is bad for us (meaning “law enforcement”), therefore new laws.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ratcheted up the rhetoric against Google and Apple Friday, vowing to push for legislation now that the tech giants have announced operating systems with encryptions that block law enforcement access.
“It does a terrible disservice to the public, ultimately, and to law enforcement, initially,” he said. “It really does impede our investigation of crimes.
That’s some mighty fine spin by Bratton. Something that will make a vast majority of the public’s data less susceptible to hackers’ attacks is a “disservice to the public” because in a very small number of cases, this encryption could hamper an investigation. Because some criminals might use this encryption, no one should be allowed to have it.
Bratton also fired the following (cheap) shot across the bow of the cell phone giants, insinuating that the companies are profiting from law enforcement pain, deliberately.
“For them to consciously, for profit and gain, to thwart those legal constitutional efforts, shame on them.”
Businesses turn profits. Otherwise, they’re not businesses (or not in business for long). Offering encryption by default does not — in itself — make Apple and Google more money. Nor does “thwarting legal constitutional efforts.” It could actually be argued that this will cost both companies more money in the long run, considering they will both be facing additional legal challenges and very-specifically-targeted legislation.
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, who notes that he’s in “lockstep” with Bratton’s views, sounds like he’s in lockstep with the former keepers of NYC’s security state — Ray Kelly and Michael Bloomberg — when he opines that the balance between privacy and security should always be tilted towards law enforcement.
“I think that the balance, however … can’t be one where saving people’s lives, solving serious crimes from child abuse to terrorism, is the price we have to pay for blanket privacy.”
I keep hearing “child abuse” and “terrorism,” but keep envisioning law enforcement’s desired encryption backdoor being used for the same thing Stingray devices and cast-off military gear are used for: plain vanilla drug warring and other assorted “normal” criminal investigations. Tears are shed over the pedophile who got away, but in practice, it’s rarely anything more than Officer Smith flipping through the digital rolodex of some low-level meth dealer.