Hillary Clinton Joins The 'Make Silicon Valley Break Encryption' Bandwagon

from the are-there-any-good-presidential-candidates? dept

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a speech yesterday all about the fight against ISIS in the wake of the Paris attacks. While most of the attention (quite reasonably so) on the speech was about her plan to deal with ISIS, as well as her comments on the ridiculous political hot potato of how to deal with Syrian refugees, she still used the opportunity to align herself with the idiotic side of the encryption debate, suggesting that Silicon Valley has to somehow “fix” the issue of law enforcement wanting to see everything. Here’s what she said:

Another challenge is how to strike the right balance of protecting privacy and security. Encryption of mobile communications presents a particularly tough problem. We should take the concerns of law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals seriously. They have warned that impenetrable encryption may prevent them from accessing terrorist communications and preventing a future attack. On the other hand, we know there are legitimate concerns about government intrusion, network security, and creating new vulnerabilities that bad actors can and would exploit. So we need Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary. We need to challenge our best minds in the private sector to work with our best minds in the public sector to develop solutions that will both keep us safe and protect our privacy.

Now is the time to solve this problem, not after the next attack.

It does not. Weakening encryption undermines both security and privacy. There’s no “balance” to be had here. You want to maximize both security and privacy and the way you do that is with strong encryption.

Also, the bit about “Silicon Valley” has to “not view government as its adversary” is another bullshit line that has been favored by James Comey and others, who keep insisting that when technologists explain to him that backdooring encryption in a manner that only “the good guys” can use it is impossible that they really mean they haven’t tried hard enough. Once again, that’s not it. What pretty much the entire tech community has been saying is that it’s impossible to create such a thing without undermining the whole thing and making everyone less safe. Hell, here’s security expert Steve Bellovin explaining this pretty clearly. He goes step by step through why it won’t work, why it makes things more dangerous, why it will be abused, and why it will put us all at risk.

And the reason that Silicon Valley views the government as adversaries is because speeches like Clinton’s sets them up that way. Her speech, like Comeys’ past speeches are directly setting up the government as an adversary to good computer security, asking technologists to undermine their own creations and make everyone less safe for some unclear amorphous belief that it might make a few people more safe at some point in the future. So, the answer isn’t scolding Silicon Valley as Hillary has chosen to do, but rather understanding reality, and recognizing that what she is directly advocating for is to harm the safety of Americans and others around the globe.

This raise serious questions about who is advising Clinton on tech policy. When she was at the State Department, it actually did a lot of really good things on encryption and protecting communications of people around the globe. It’s pretty ridiculous for Clinton to undermine her own efforts with such a dumb statement in this speech.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Hillary Clinton Joins The 'Make Silicon Valley Break Encryption' Bandwagon”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That One Guy (profile) says:

Wrong enemy

When, to be blunt, idiots and/or liars claim that tech companies are ‘refusing to work with police and the government’, and that if only they’d stop being so ‘antagonistic’ towards the calls for breaking encryption a solution could be found that would allow the ‘good guys’ in, but keep the ‘bad guys’ out, they reveal that their ‘enemy’ is not the tech companies, but a much more troublesome foe:


No amount of wishing, no laws or calls for ‘co-operation’ or threats of ‘do it on your own or be forced to do it by law’ will change the underlying fact, a fact that they are either dishonestly ignoring, or just too clueless to know:

There is not, and never will be, such thing as secure broken encryption or ‘good guys only’ security vulnerabilities.

At this point there is absolutely no excuse for anyone in the government or police speaking on the matter not to have done enough research to know this, so I can only assume that they know full well that they are demanding the impossible, and yet continue to lie and claim that it is possible, if only those dastardly tech companies would try harder.

Those that claim that it’s possible for a ‘golden key’ system to be created, that claim that it’s possible to weaken security such that only certain individuals can take advantage of the glaring vulnerability are either fools or liars, and need to be called out on it either way.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Wrong enemy

“There is not, and never will be, such thing as secure broken encryption or ‘good guys only’ security vulnerabilities.”

But… the only people telling them this very obvious reality are people from the tech industry. So it’s clearly just an excuse to not have to give the government and law enforcement what they want!

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wrong enemy

Perhaps we can arrange a debate between Hillary and Ted “Hackers Will Take Down Our Electric Grid” Koppel.

No doubt she’ll concede that corporations can have encryption. But since people want to do internet banking, Apple Pay and other functions that require an encrypted connection to those corporations – from a secure personal device – she’ll just switch to a different line of hypocrisy and wishful thinking.

DannyB (profile) says:

They are asking for insecurity, even demanding it

It is important to always frame the debate the correct way.

What they are asking for is for tech companies to make their products insecure.

Whenever they say something like . . .
“to make it accessible to law enforcement”,
they are also saying
“to make it accessible to hackers”.

Always point that fact out.

If Apple, Google, or the government can get into your data, then so can China, Russia, Anonymous, and others.

The reason for secure encryption is not (necessarily) for the purpose of evading law enforcement. It is for the purpose of evading hackers.

You can’t have it both ways. Secure against hackers, open to government snoops.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not just that. But put it on a private server specifically because you don’t trust members of your government to not be reading your personal email.

While at the same time advocating that everyone should be giving up the private keys to their email.

This should be from the “Do as I say, not as I do” department.

Vel the Enigmatic says:

How’s this for a metaphor? Try sending it to the idiots:

Encryption is like a giant wall around a large city, it has one legitimate entry-way that is an iron gate.

Suddenly you build a door somewhere in the wall, and give the key to only law enforcement. Now all a miscreant / criminal has to do is steal the key, make a copy of it, or use a lockpick or explosives to gain access through that door.

By putting that door in the wall, you make the wall less secure than if you had only one entry-way.

-H. says:

Re: Re:

There’s no need for additional metaphors when the most awesome example exists in meatspace: TSA locks.

Those were designed so only the ‘good guys’ could get access and one photo (publicly posted, nevermind if any exploits were silently known before) completely defeated the entire ecosystem.

This is what they’re asking for to protect our data.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But someone will tell you:

* “But you can choose from the lesser of two evils.”
(but I shouldn’t have to choose between two evils. Something is more deeply broken within the system if these are the candidates we get to choose from.)

* “If you don’t like the US, you can go live somewhere else.”
(to which I reply… in the US I am within my rights to complain, and work within the democratic system to try to effect change.)

Anonymous Coward says:

i’m scratching my head and trying to recall a worse field of presidential candidates, and i’m coming up dry. .we’ve outdone ourselves this time.

comedy, yes. .the ground where jack benny and rodney dangerfield lie probably shakes a little every day if you knew where to put the sensors, but for us and our future, this is sad.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Did you just imply that Donald Trump or Ben Carson would be a better president than G.W. Bush? I’m gonna have to disagree there. Bush was a bad president, but he wasn’t the worst president we’ve ever had. Obama hasn’t been much better, but at least he’s balanced out his aggressive authoritarian overreach with a couple of good initiatives.

Some of the current candidates, though…

Clinton would be Obama, but worse.
Jeb would be Dubya, but worse.
Trump would probably lose half the country to China in a poker match.
Carson is just bit-shit crazy.

I do like Sanders, though. He’s an independent, so is less likely to push for the political super-class. He might be a socialist, but Congress is not, so any reforms he could get through would be small, incremental steps. Just because he wants to go 10 miles, and I want to go 5 miles, doesn’t preclude us from agreeing on making that first mile.

He’s not likely to win the Democratic primary, though. I’m an Independent, and my state has Closed primaries, so I can’t do a damn thing about it.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just because he wants to go 10 miles, and I want to go 5 miles, doesn’t preclude us from agreeing on making that first mile.

I think that might be the most concise single statement of my position on so many issues that I’ve ever seen. I just wish more people in Washington would work together on that first mile, rather than scuttle the entire system because they can’t get absolutely everything they want all in one go. (While keeping the other side from getting anything at all.)

My state’s open primary system isn’t much better, though… not if you’re at all inclined to split your ticket.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Trump is “anti-establishment?” He’s a billionaire who’s openly bragged about buying influence with politicians through his contributions!

Instead of having plutocrats like the Kochs or Soros buy politicians to do their bidding, we have just cut out the middleman with Donald Trump. Nothing more than having one faction of the establishment go to war with another.

David says:

Re: Re: When?

Well, Obama had an opinion on everything before his election. So much so that he got a Nobel Peace Prize for them. He’ll be able to pass them to the next presidential candidate essentially unused.

Just like his copy of the Constitution, assuming that there was no shortage of toilet paper during his terms.

I think that the last U.S. president who was willing to throw his weight behind the Constitution was Eisenhower.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: When?

When will politician learn to say: “I don’t know enough about this to have an opinion!”???

Humility and human fallibility is not in the job description. They sell perfection, and rely on it not being necessary once in office. Once in, they get a free four year ride to find funding for the next go-round.

Why anyone puts up with this is the question. I say bring back Mr. Guillotine. It’d beat the crap out of reality TV.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Important distinction

Encryption is based on one thing only: mathematics.

The determination of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys is based on something very different: morality.

Morality is not mathematics. The equations don’t change depending on whether a good guy or a bad guy is calculating them. Therefore, there’s no such thing as an encryption backdoor that only the good guys can use.

It really is that simple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Important distinction

“The determination of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys is based on something very different: morality.”

This may be the case for many, but not those who seek power and authority over others. For them it is a matter of how much they can get away with and whether they will get caught.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Important distinction

Look, I’ll make this simple for you.

Math is hard! The US education system is working hard to ensure that students understand that math is too difficult. That they should avoid math and the ugly things that follow from it . . . science, engineering, technology. (and successful careers)

So ignore the math. Just build us something that is secure against people we don’t like, but allows in ‘good guys’ like the government snoops. And while I’m not a scientist . . . why can’t those smart sillycone valley types come up with a way for black to be white and simultaneously white to be black. Oh, and cure impotence and baldness while you’re at it because congress critters need that very much!

any moose cow word says:

Re: Re: Important distinction

To put it simply, there’s is no way for an encryption system to determine that only a “good-guy” is legally accessing it with 100% accuracy. All it can determine is rather the answer is right or wrong, not whether the use is right or wrong.

Besides, you apparently know nothing about system security in government and law enforcement. It’s practically an oxymoron. The idea that the “good-guys” could have any secrete system to decrypt data when they themselves can’t secure their own systems is beyond naive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Explain it to the like a two year old

Someone with some skilz could make a video so these ass hats can finally understand.

Video would go something like this:
At the phone factory a gold key is made that can unlock each phone while a unique silver key is assigned to each individual phone for use by the end-user.

Rogue employee #1 makes a copy of the golden key and gives it to North Koreans for $100k to pay off his gambeling debts with the mob.

Rogue employee #2 copies the key and sells copies on the on the latest silk road for $1k/copy. This item is so hot he sells hudreds of thousands of copies.

Hacker in moms basement uses a file to shape some metal he has and keeps trying the keys in various devices until it works. He then steals millions from peoples bank accounts.

Politician #1 logs into his bank from his phone to find it has a $0 balance.

Procesutor #1 does same thing and sees $0 balance and vows to unleash the full extent of the law on whoever is responsible for this.

Judge #1 has his bank account held hostage unless he rules a particular way on some case

Politician #2 wakes to news about all the bad things he has done and was discovered by activists unlocking his phone.

Prosecutor #2 drops charges agains someone in exchange for not having his sexual fetish exposed on the nightly news after hackers copied all his phones photos.

etc etc etc

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Explain it to the like a two year old

Make it simpler. Show a video of a house with huge gates, doors with multiple locks and an alarm, locked & barred windows, security cameras and spiked window frame and pronounce proudly how secure it is from intruders!

Then, the owner decides they’re tired of letting the cat out every night through all those doors and they install a cat flap round the back. Show burglars gaining access to the house using the cat flap, be that subtlety or by using it to throw a bomb in there.

If they don’t understand how the cat flap made the building less secure, make sure you’re filming their response so the nation’s 3 year olds can explain it to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

We need to challenge our best minds in the private sector to work with our best minds in the public sector to develop solutions that will both keep us safe and protect our privacy.

That can almost be achieved by treating decryption requests like government agencies treat FOIA requests, stall until the data is well past its sell by date.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not to get off topic, but who the hell cares what her position is on encryption? Isn’t she still under investigation for her email scandal? The fact she is attempting to jump on the bandwagon after her meager win recently doesn’t change the fact she is not trustworthy on these issues.

Oh and Ms. Clinton, or what gopher you have combing these sites for you; the government on the encryption issue is unfortunately the adversary now. From city DAs to presidential candidates, there is a coordinated effort to outlaw/denounce encryption or break the software companies into compliance.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: does anyone else have much of a chance?

It actually reminds me of the Republican contest last time around. Mitt Romney was the clear favorite, but the Republican establishment couldn’t stand him, and they did everything they could to throw one candidate after another against him. But despite their best efforts, people kept voting for him, and he won the nomination. (And then proceeded to lose the Presidential vote.)

This time around, it’s similar but different on the Democratic side. The clear favorite of actual people is Bernie Sanders, but the party is doing everything they can to push Hillary instead. It appears that they’ve learned from the Republicans’ mistakes, though: they’ve done everything they can to keep the playing field as un-cluttered as possible. (See also: Larry Lessig.) But despite all this, and despite Hillary’s big-money backing, Sanders’s poll numbers continue to grow. I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out.

I do agree that there doesn’t appear to be anyone particularly noteworthy on the Republican side this time around. The strongest candidate (still!) appears to be Donald Trump, and that’s kind of worrisome, because as I’ve noted before, it’s highly likely that the next President will be whoever the Republican candidate ends up being.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Once again, creating a real world analogy to explain something a computer does is really hard, but here I go.

You have a lock on your door to your home, right? You go around and make sure everything is locked up at night before you go to bed.

Now how would you feel if you found out that every single door in your city has a master key that the police have. That key isn’t just loaned out when needed, it’s copied and the copies aren’t expected back. If the keys are only given to law enforcement, it should be fine, right?

So after a bit of time there have been quite a few requests for this master key. Some guy over here is suspected of dealing drugs. That person over there is accused of kidnapping. That person across town has kiddy porn. A warrant is obtained in each instance and a copy of the key is made.

How often do people lose their keys? How much more likely is it to lose your keys as you add more keys? How easy would it be to steal this master key as more and more of them come into existence? How long until the key falls into the hands of a cop that isn’t 100% loyal?

How much more likely would it be that some guy just screwing around in his basement manages to make this master key from scratch without any outside help?

Keeping every single lock in a city different means that if someone wants to break in, they have to start completely from scratch on each and every lock. Making one key means that only one lock has to be broken and suddenly they all are.

Granted, this is Hillary Clinton. Since she’s married to a former president, she has secret service guarding her house. She doesn’t have to think about locking her doors. She’d probably look at my analogy and just say “You should really get your personal guard on that.”

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

What do you mean it's binary?

Could it be that the best minds in the public sector (at least in the political arena and for the most part (there are still a few who can think for themselves and their constituents)) are compromised either be ideology or graft or are brain dead.

Brain dead, yeah, a good way to think of compromised politicians. They think with their campaign bank accounts rather than their minds.

Padpaw (profile) says:

Hilary is a paid for mouthpiece.

She accepts donations from groups that abuse women all the while giving lip service to helping abused women. She advocates spying on everyone while secretly making deals to exempt herself.

The most damming things of all in my opinion is that she has gone on record saying she considers being a multimillionaire as dead broke, since she isn’t a billionaire. As well as the “what does it matter” scandal.

Much like several recent presidents you know she is lying when ever she opens her mouth.

Anyone who votes for someone that has clearly shown they will sacrifice the rights and lives of their fellow citizens for personal gain, deserves that sort of president.

Tom says:

Here's what to tell these politicians.

I firmly believe that, in the current political environment, telling politicians that back-doors to encryption leaves us open to thieves is the wrong argument. Right now, crime just isn’t on their agenda. So here’s the better argument:
Banning encryption or creating back-doors to it leaves us open to a direct terrorist attack over the internet. And if that isn’t convincing enough, add the fact that a ton of money changes hands over the internet, via banking and commerce sites. We’d be inadvertently funding those same terrorists if they were to break into those transactions.
It’s all about the terrorists, man! Break encryption and the terrorists win.
Shame there isn’t a “think of the children” argument, then we’d be golden.

Ted Lemon (profile) says:

Re: Here's what to tell these politicians.

Here’s a “think of the children” argument:

Does your child have a laptop or tablet with a microphone and camera? Do you know whether that device is secure from pedophiles, drug dealers and other unsavory characters? Right now, Apple, Google and other manufacturers have set up unbreakable security on these devices. This prevents criminal hackers from taking control of these devices and using them to take advantage of your children.

Hillary Clinton wants to end that. She says that because these devices are secure, terrorists can use them to plan attacks. What she’s not telling you is that she wants to give pedophiles and criminal hackers access to your child’s internet devices. She says that she wants only the government to have the keys to these devices. But there’s no way to do both. Either you make the devices vulnerable to hacking both by the government and by pedophiles and other criminals, or you keep them secure from all eavesdroppers.

Worse yet, by making these devices vulnerable we actually make it easier for the terrorists to attack us. So instead of gaining security from terrorists, we would actually make our children and our families more vulnerable to them.

So ask yourself: do you support Hillary Clinton for President when she is putting your childrens’ safety at risk?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: School-issued laptops are commonly issued with spyware on them

This spyware not merely used to observe what kids are looking at online, or to determine their whereabouts when they’re supposed to be in school, but also to observe them undressing when in their own rooms.

We get the occasional news article about a custodian getting fired for doing this, but like NSA techs looking at private cheesecake emailed between adult lovers, getting to ogle underage kids in their own rooms is an unmentioned perk for the administrators authorized to check on the laptops.

Don’t think they don’t. Don’t even think that they’re kind enough to at least not pass around video captures to their colleagues when something extra juicy is discovered.

When we insert vulnerabilities, they will be abused by those who have access to them. There are no good guys.

Anonymous Coward says:

“who is advising Clinton on tech policy”

Speech-writers and people with marketing degrees who analyze focus groups of lower intelligence than the average jury.

If she had tech experts telling her what to say, she’d never get elected and nor would any of the other candidates.

The question for a candidate is: Do you want to be win or do you want to be right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Speech-writers and people with marketing degrees who analyze focus groups of lower intelligence than the average jury.”
behaviorist, social engineers, nudge experts

“If she had tech experts telling her what to say, she’d never get elected and nor would any of the other candidates.”

or we would end under a matrix/skynet/umbrella corporation/equilibrium DYSTOPIA in a couple of years???

beech says:

hover cars

I demand that the nations engineers stop acting like “the enemy” and solve the nations energy crisis right now. Why don’t they just invent a perpetual motion hover car already?!Then we could stop wasting money on roads, and stop killing the eenvironment with gasoline byproducts. If engineers wanted to they could probably make this happen by the end if the month. Instead they keep acting obstinate about “breaking” the “laws of thermodynamics”. You’re smart people, now get to work!

Bill "Clipper Chip" Clinton says:

whatabbout the Escrow key clipper chip????

“This raise serious questions about who is advising Clinton on tech policy. When she was at the State Department, it actually did a lot of really good things on encryption and protecting communications of people around the globe. It’s pretty ridiculous for Clinton to undermine her own efforts with such a dumb statement in this speech.”

Mike Masnick this is manure, (what kind of journalism is this?!?):

Although Bill Clinton has been carefully removed from the “Escrow key clipper Chip” wiki page. WE ALL KNOW he tried that one in the past.

Adam (profile) says:


I’m having a hard time finding people in their 50s who are fluent in technology. What makes me believe that these artifacts in politics know what the heck they are talking about?

This fossil couldn’t figure out how to send emoticons and somehow she wants to pretend that she knows anything about encryption???

I would love for someone to stand up to anyone who speaks this asinine rhetoric and ask them what they know about encryption..

I nominate: “What is a semi-prime?” as the first question.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: WTH

Just to clarify, I don’t necessarily disagree that overall our politicians seem to lack technology skills. Politics seems to attract less technological savoy people more than other sectors. (Those who can’t become politicians!). I’m just not convinced it’s really an age thing. I’ve seen plenty of young politicians say stupid things concerning technology too.

Jason says:


I’ve had the very same thought. How many people in Congress have cheerfully exclaimed that they’ve never sent an email in their lives, smugly happy about it?

Looking back, I think browser designers (to pick just one technology) got it all wrong from the start by highlighting secure sites with special indicators. (Green bars, colored lock icons, whatever.) Every non-secure site should have lit up the browser window with flashing alert icons and scrolling text warning that the connection was not secure and “everything you do on this page can potentially be seen by anyone else on the internet!” Maybe if a spotlight had been thrown on that from the beginning we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Well, we probably would. But a guy can dream, right?

Anonymous Coward says:


The one person who is the most likely to be president (because let’s face it, Trump and Sanders have no chance in hell) is now the person jumping on the tech-illiterate bandwagon

What’s funny is that she expects us to trust the government wtih all of our encryption to not break it/let it be broken, while at the same time storing her email on her own personal encrypted server because she didn’t trust the government.


David says:

You go first

So we need Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary.

Well, this would be so much easier if the government did not view the Constitution as its adversary.

As long as the proven liars, oath breakers and enemies of the Constitution are allowed to remain in office, there is not much of a point in an escrow system, even if it were technically feasible. Which it isn’t.

DigDug says:

Open response to ignorant Hillary

You’re an ignorant hick that has already broken the law with your complete misunderstanding of security issues in why you shouldn’t have used a private server for your official government position’s e-mails.

Given that incompetence, why anyone should listen to your ignorant yammering about this, yet another security issue that you totally don’t understand.

If we want security, we need unbreakable encryption. Period.

There’s nothing to discuss. The game is over.
To all the rest of you governmental ignoramuses, pull your heads from your collective asses, shut the frak up and leave encryption alone.

None of you understand it.
None of you realize that by asking for breakable encryption, that you undermine the Constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Open response to ignorant Hillary

None of you realize that by asking for breakable encryption, that you undermine the Constitution.

The constitution limits what government can do, as so limits politicians power. Undermining it is what they want to do, because its existence implies that the politicians should be under control of the citizens.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Washington post recently released an article about Hillary’s fundraising network for her Presidential campaign. Among that network is Google’s management.

Either Google management needs to withhold additional funding from Hillary’s campaign or they need to find some way to convince her that backdooring encryption for *anyone* is awful and that there’s no such thing as a secure golden key. It otherwise sends a *very* bad message to their customers.

Johno says:

Re: Re: Re:

Bernie has never advocated redistribution. Redistribution would involve taking existing wealth and sharing it out amongst the citizens. Bernie is advocating raising taxes on the super rich and taxing their future income. The closest he has ever come to advocating redistribution is his proposal to raise inheritance taxes on the super wealthy. So the heirs of the Walton and Koch families won’t be born billionaires and they might actually have to go through the education system and work to earn their living at some point in their lives. Agree or disagree with that stance, but learn about the nuances before you dismiss it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_8R6PgGcTw

Ed (profile) says:

All your encryptions belong to us

So the US government will mandate backdoors. This will effectively ban encryption in the US.

That means people in the US who want encryption will need to get it from outside the USA. Is this merely your government’s way to get everyone to use Tor?

Wait, that leaves mobile phones. I guess US citizens wanting a secure phone will need to buy it on silk road. Perhaps one day people wanting a secure phone will be able to get one for medicinal purposes only.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Envelopes presents a particularly tough problem.”

Why I wrote PGP

Philip Zimmermann wrote PGP (the modern Free Software version is GPG) for several reasons (I encourage you to read why in his own words). One of the most important reasons was the problem that email was a postcard, open for all to view. He felt it was important that we learn to wrap our messages in an envelope, just like we do for traditional mail.

What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcards for their mail? If a nonconformist tried to assert his privacy by using an envelope for his mail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the authorities would open his mail to see what he’s hiding. Fortunately, we don’t live in that kind of world, because everyone protects most of their mail with envelopes. So no one draws suspicion by asserting their privacy with an envelope. There’s safety in numbers. Analogously, it would be nice if everyone routinely used encryption for all their email, innocent or not, so that no one drew suspicion by asserting their email privacy with encryption. Think of it as a form of solidarity.

Now we see why this was so important. If everybody has listened 20 years ago when we were trying to encourage everybody to use encryption, politicians wouldn’t be able to make the claims they are making this week.

Still, better late than never. The task is harder now, with people like McCain and Clinton pushing back against encryption, but it’s not impossible. Encourage everybody you know to start using encryption now, because encryption is the modern envelope.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

You know what this makes me think of?

A tactic like telling Iraq We know you have WMDs. Hand them over and we won’t have to bomb the snot out of you.

Of course Iraq didn’t have WMDs. They got rid of the surplus from the war against Iran. We knew that.

But since they didn’t hand over anything we could accuse them of holding out, and drop all the bombs.

(Not quite the way it went, but it would have worked as well)

In parallel, telling the tech industry come up with a solution that meets these [impossible] specifications or we’ll make you sorry is a way to assure that you get to make them sorry.

And doesn’t Hillary bed with big media who considers big tech a big disruption of their happy kingdom?

Meanwhile, I tire of politicians using the word balance as in We need to balance our need for privacy with our need for security to indicate they don’t give a fuck about collateral damage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Great future we have in store.

The absolute best we can hope for is for things to stay as they are with grand scale (mis)use of survaliance.
The best scenario if these morons actually gets this through would probably be the following:
USA gets the golden key for all American companies and either get them from foreign companies as well or they get kicked out. All around the world countries will demand these keys too, which America will refuse for American companies. The other countries will throw American (and others out) who won’t give their golden key away. BAM! Everything the internet and globalisation has managed to acomplice has just been undone in one stroke.
Trade will be severely damaged and the internet will be segmented by country and the world will be so much poorer for it.
Maybe I am a cynic, but it is damned hard not to be with these “people” who are like angry little brats in control of nukes.

Anonymous Coward says:

She's a Politician!

What do you expect? She’s not an engineer, or scientist, or even a technician. Politicians win the day by winning arguments, facts are irrelevant. I read once that in the entire Congress there were only 4 people with a Computer Science degree. The rest are lawyers or “Political Science” (which AIN’T SCIENCE!) majors. I don’t expect them to understand technical or mathematical or medical or any scientific subject. I DO expect them to know who or where to get the correct information to allow them to make good decisions. So far, they’ve ALL flunked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: She's a Politician!

That, Sir, is an excellent point. We’ve had it demonstrated many times that any technical info can be slanted to favor the teller’s agenda – up to a point. The smart person will get several opinions and balance them.

Most technical questions ain’t really that hard and can be answered by the average techie. The problem comes in when one tries to combine witchcraft and blue-sky opinion with science to get an impossible or unlikely result, such as the encryption “backdoor”. It just flat can’t work without destroying the encryption you’re trying to peek at, which any technical person will tell you. Sorry if reality doesn’t match up with your dreams, but there you go.

tqk (profile) says:

Why does anyone listen to this woman?

On the other hand, we know there are legitimate concerns about government intrusion, network security, and creating new vulnerabilities that bad actors can and would exploit.

But, …

So we need Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary.

Maybe government should start listening to people who understand this stuff, instead of airheads like Hillary Clinton. How did she manage to become the Democrats front runner? Who’s paying her bills, and what’s the quid pro quo?

Hillary == sleazy. Run away.

LeeOB says:

Bye-Bye Mrs. Clinton

You just lost me to Bernie. Any weakening of encryption only opens doors for HACKERS and BAD GUYS! Once you put a back door into a device, the terrorists won’t use it.

There are dozens of legit FREE encryption tools out there which they WILL use to stay hidden. The only BACK_DOOR is a BAD BACK_DOOR! Really a DUMB and STUPID solution to NON-EXISTENT problem!

Anonymous Coward says:

It is more important what you win, than that you win.

Democrats need to consider this during the convention. While both leading candidates are likely technologically illiterate, only one of them seems to notice that the violations of the 1st and the 4th amendments are coming out of the private sector as often as the public sector these days.

While the illiterate tend to do a lot of damage in complex entropic systems, Hillary supports the vast legions of aristocrat socialites. These are the same people who take innovative world changing technologies and turn them into machines of exploitation. They are offensive to the very notion of freedom and innovation in the modern era.

You can’t be on the side of a movement towards formalized aristocracy, and on the side of the Constitution at the same time. Article 1 Section 9 says so. There is only ONE class of citizenship in this country, and the Dictionary Act of 1871 did not change that, even if SCOTUS would like to amend the Constitution to that end.

Overturn Citizens United. Reinstate Glass Steagall. Bust the Trusts.

David says:

Actually, this is easy.

Encryption is used when bad people might obtain access that possibilities that should be reserved to particular people. Backdoored encryption with key escrow is problematic because bad people might obtain access to possibilities that should be reserved to particular people.

So key escrow and cleartext communication depend on the same social assumptions. It does not help that by far the worst known and documented privacy violations that happen currently are done by the U.S. government at the forefront with other governments closely behind.

The Bill of Right is exactly there because otherwise the foxes will claim that they are by far the most qualified parties for guarding the keys to the hen house.

Anonymous Coward says:

just the reality that there’s an ugly rumor going around that one of the candidates has never attempted to stab anyone is enough to mark this political season as nothing like we’ve experienced before. .throw in the trump card and you just have to shake your head. .down is up and up is down and not in a cozy times they are a’changin’ way.

sorry, bob, but the times did change and not in a good way. .this has to be a low point in this nation’s history. .there can’t be a down from here.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Bottom America

there can’t be a down from here

Exercise your imaginations. America is going to show you bottoms you don’t know existed.

Watching what we (or our fathers) did in the 20th century, I no longer believe there’s a bottom. We’re infinitely capable of way worse than what we’ve done so far. Pol Pot showed us the way. Mao and the Red Guard, and a few south American dictatorships proved it’s very repeatable. Humans can be very creative, even when we’re reaching for the bottom of what’s physically or intellectually possible. Think Auschwitz or Bergen Belsen, or Sobibor. Then there’s Stalin and Beria et al, depravity personified. Oh yeah, we can go even lower. Try us.

The US is just getting started on this road. Imagine what 21st century technology can come up with building upon what we learned last century.

Depressed yet? 😐 Sucks to be our children.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Hillary Clinton might sound like a flippin’ idiot but I daresay she’s smarter than she seems from this speech. Can anyone confirm links to the surveillance/security industry? Is she taking “contributions” from Booz Allen, etc?

Follow the money, that’s where the answer is. If it’s not that, then she is a flippin’ idiot.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Eliminating the ability to “follow the money trail” has been among the federal government’s top priorities over the last two decades.

If she is actually as smart as you propose, perhaps she is also smart enough to hide such contributions via private agencies or whatever vehicles the legal eagles have created for the purposes of dark money transfers and election control.

Its not often, for instance, that the Koch boys give directly to a candidate, when so many protected hidden brown bag detours are available that leave no obvious paper trail.

In my opinion, the question is not “Is she taking ‘contributions’ from Booz Allen, etc..”, so much as how much money has she received so far from such groups via dark money routes.

That she is taking it goes without saying.

What politician turns down free money from any source?

Sadly, dark money donators have built quite an effective underground banking system and the laws have been bent just enough to maintain their viability and the anonymity of their benefactors.

It is more than likely that we will never know who her true backers are.

I don’t think it really matters though, as the POTUS has already been selected – just not yet introduced – and the campaign money this year is more about the No-Possible-Way Clown Candidate Troupe putting on a good anti-voter circus performance, to insure the voters will be ready to accept anything that even slightly resembles a non-clown candidate.

What is the latest possible date for announcing a candidacy for POTUS. That’s about the time when we will meet the new Boss, methinks.

I think Hillary is being polished shiny in the press, because the real POTUS to be, is a female and corporate america’s public relations department knows that America has to be groomed to accept a female president, exactly like they were groomed to accept a black man for president.

Anonymous Coward says:


If those stubborn tech engineers would just get a unicorn to fart on molten gold maybe just maybe a magical good-guy-only key could be forged or something cause they’re smart, they should just figure it out already…

…or were going to hafta pass a law equal to such a key, one that says nobody can use encryption and only authorized persons and good-guys are allowed to access data.

Hey magical keys conjured up from legal words. Ah, those lazy tech guys who couldn’t figure it out. We politicians can turn the sky red by simply passing a law that the sky is now red.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...