Hillary Clinton Doubles Down Her Attack On Silicon Valley: Wants A 'Solution' For Encryption & Clampdown On Free Speech

from the that-seems-pretty-dumb dept

A few weeks ago, we pointed out that Hillary Clinton had, unfortunately, joined in with other clueless politicians to call for “Silicon Valley” to “develop solutions” to the “concerns of law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals” on “encryption.” Anyone who’s followed the “debate” over encryption over the past year knows that asking Silicon Valley to “develop solutions” is James Comey’s codewords for “create a backdoor for encryption” — no matter how many times experts in encryption have explained to him that such a solution makes everyone less safe. After we and a few others wrote about Clinton’s unfortunate and dangerous decision to throw her lot in with those who wish to backdoor encryption, one of her main tech advisers, Alec Ross, went a little ballistic, insisting she did not say what she clearly did say.

And, this weekend Clinton apparently decided to double down and then go even further — even before President Obama suggested that he’d also support undermining encryption. First, on ABC’s This Week, she repeated the argument that we just need “the best minds” to “come together” and “deal” with this issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about Apple? No more encryption?

CLINTON: This is something I’ve said for a long time, George. I have to believe that the best minds in the private sector, in the public sector could come together to help us deal with this evolving threat. And you know, I know what the argument is from our friends in the industry. I respect that. Nobody wants to be feeling like their privacy is invaded.

But I also know what the argument is on the other side from law enforcement and security professionals. So, please, let’s get together and try to figure out the best way forward.

But, again, that’s like asking “the best minds” to come up with bullets that only kill bad people. Or books that only nice people are allowed to read. You’re asking for an impossibility, and in doing so, you’re making everyone less safe by undermining encryption — which is the key to realistic computer security.

Even worse, when Clinton claims that she knows “what the argument is from our friends in the industry” she gets their argument wrong. It’s not just about invading privacy. It’s about the fact that she’s asking for the impossible. It’s not just about protecting the privacy of people from intruding government. It’s about not weakening overall systems that will allow those with bad intent to do lots of damage. It’s a ridiculous statement and Clinton appears to be getting just as bad technology advice as basically every other presidential candidate.

And, that wasn’t her only ridiculous anti-tech statement on the weekend. She also said that Facebook, YouTube and Twitter should censor bad content online to somehow stop ISIS.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you were in the Oval Office tonight, would you be announcing a new strategy?

CLINTON: Well, I think what — that’s what we’ll hear from the president, an intensification of the existing strategy and I think there’s some additional steps we have to take.

If you look at the story about this woman and maybe the man, too, who got radicalized, self-radicalized, we’re going to need help from Facebook and from YouTube and from Twitter. They cannot permit the recruitment and the actual direction of attacks or the celebration of violence by this sophisticated Internet user.

They’re going to have to help us take down these announcements and these appeals they get up.

I know that this view is one that many people agree with, but it’s equally dangerous. First, it assumes that ISIS propaganda is apparently so powerful that no counter speech could possibly work against it, and thus it must be censored. But that’s ridiculous on multiple levels. It overvalues the speech of ISIS and its supporters and the impact that it has (most studies have shown radicalization happens because of people individuals know in real life, not randos on the internet).

Really, though, exactly how are Facebook and Twitter and YouTube supposed to do this? How are they supposed to review every bit of content that everyone creates, and determine which bits are “good” and allowed and which are “bad” and not allowed? Clinton is asking for a fairy tale — a world where (1) it’s obvious what’s good content and what’s not and (2) one in which every bit of speech and communication is monitored and scored on such a non-existent scale. Both of these things are impossible. I don’t know about you, but I prefer political candidates who focus on the possible, rather than fairy tales (I recognize this leaves me with basically almost no politicians to support, but occupational hazard, I guess…).

In a separate speech, given at the Brookings Institution, Clinton took this idea even further, calling on Silicon Valley to “disrupt ISIS,” which is such a painful abuse of the term “disrupt” as to again raise questions about who is advising her on tech policy issues:

?We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS.”

Disruption in the tech world is about making things cheaper and better, and reinventing markets. It’s not about magically stopping bad people from using technology. This is still fairy tale thinking.

But, more importantly, it encourages (or potentially threatens to mandate) that these content and communications platforms have to start proactively monitoring all speech online, and determining, on the fly, what speech is “good” and which speech is “bad.” That’s dangerous and will undoubtedly lead to much greater censorship — including content that actually is useful in highlighting atrocities and dangerous activities online. We’ve seen this before. After US politicians pressured YouTube into removing “terrorist” videos, it resulted in videos being deleted from a Syrian watchdog group that was documenting atrocities.

Besides, these two separate issues seem totally contradictory. On the one hand, Clinton and other anti-encryption folks whine about not being able to see what terrorists are saying “because encryption.” But then, at the same time, they’re saying that when those same people talk about things publicly online — in a way that’s trackable — we should shut them down.

It’s almost like they have no strategy at all… except to try to throw the blame on technology companies.

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Comments on “Hillary Clinton Doubles Down Her Attack On Silicon Valley: Wants A 'Solution' For Encryption & Clampdown On Free Speech”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

A lie by any other name...

What needs to be done, each and every time someone argues for crippling encryption, if for it to be pointed out, crystal clear and with no room for confusion, what they are really asking for:

Weaker security and less safety for everyone.

That is what they are arguing for, no matter how much they try and lie and pretend otherwise, and they deserve to be called out on it.

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: A lie by any other name...

What really bothers me is that one of the logical outcomes of this is that tech companies will demand to be released from liability for any future breaches. And the government will acquiesce, because that is how they will convince them.

So, not only will consumers be left holding the bag, they’ll be completely on their own.

Nothing could possibly be a bigger threat to future online commerce than that.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A lie by any other name...

True. They will use “every tool in the toolbox”.

But I stand by my point. Many people not trained in risk management would not immediately realize that “removing risk” is a real economic incentive, as good a payoff to a business as a literal bag of money.

The gov’t can offer this “risk reduction” bribe without needing to allocate any budget, carve any checks, or send any suitcases of cash. It’s “off balance sheet”, and almost invisible to the voting public. The costs are socialized, but not a tax, so Grover Norquist won’t bitch about it. It slips under the radar.

As such, it can be easily corrupted, as good as any slush fund and as honest as any Iran-Contra payoffs.

HegemonicDistortion says:


“You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘Freedom of speech,’ ” Mrs. Clinton said in an hourlong speech and question-and-answer session at the Saban Forum…

So freedom of speech (presumably privacy and security, too) is a “complaint,” not a right, and the Constitution is just an obstacle to be circumvented to her.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Disturbing

Listen, I dislike her a little, and a LOT on this subject. But to be fair, people complaining about “Freedom of speech” are frequently NOT making a valid 1st Amendment complaint.

Also said as, just by invoking the 1st doesn’t actually mean your complaint is valid.

Take many of the idiot commenters on Techdirt, whose comments are voted away, who complain about censorship and 1st Amendment rights. They are wrong on so many levels: Mike didn’t censor them, the community did, this is not a gov’t site so it is not a violation of free speech, and their speech is not removed, but voted into a low visibility state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Disturbing

[P]eople complaining about “Freedom of speech” are frequently NOT making a valid 1st Amendment complaint.

Oh, of course not.

A complaint that Kim Jong-un is suppressing his people’s speech in the DPRK is certainly not a valid 1st Aendment complaint! There just is NOT any 1st Amendment in North Korea.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve noted this before with other politicians, and I believe it applies here just as much. She’s not clueless, she’s dishonest. If she really doesn’t know, then she shouldn’t be saying anything on the subject, and given how much attention has been given to the subject for months now, she’s had plenty of time to educate herself on the matter, which means there’s pretty much two possibilies here:

1. She’s intentionally kept herself ignorant on the issue, and has not bothered to consult with anyone who knows enough on the matter to give her an informed statement on it.


2. She’d dishonest, knows she’s asking for the impossible, and doesn’t care.

Incompetent or lying, take your pick, because when it comes to politicians and police speaking about encryption and magic keys, at this point those are the only two options to describe them.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

  1. Dunning-Kruger effect. This has better explanatory power while assuming much less.

    3. Behaviors of crowds. She is doing what nearly everyone else in her culture and environment (professional politics) does.

    Of course they lie, or at least bullshit – I’m pretty sure they don’t know half the time whether they are promoting untruths or not, like lots of people. The pols just have a stage where we can all see their act, and their actions have a lot more consequences than most peoples’, given their power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

read sheep:
The leveling of society through the redistributive process means both A FLOOR AND A CEILING that specifies both the minimum that a person is to be guaranteed and the maximum that will be allowed through the taxing away of income


Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Redistribution is happening already but it’s headed upwards. We’re already being squeezed. Maintaining and entrenching the status quo is not going to make things any better.

The democratic socialism practiced by Sanders, etc., doesn’t redistribute wealth, it just makes the wealthy pay their fair share into a system they’ve been milking for their own benefit. As I’ve said any number of times, if half of the assertions you hysterical right-wingers make were actually true, Vermont would have a population sharply divided between the very rich and the very poor. That’s not actually true, is it?

Now take a trip to Kansas and tell me why you think they’ve got their fiscal policy right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

You Bernie Sanders supporters are dumber than ANY right winger. If you think “democratic socialism” is any different then “regular socialism” you are also additionally retarded. If you think socialism has worked, provided social stability or mobility, protected middle and lower class citizens, or generally increased the quality of life ANYWHERE that it has been tried, you’re so stupid that… Well, that you must be a Bernie Sanders supporter. How is it that you people are so blind, stupid, ignorant, and out of touch to think that “Big Government” is going to reign in “Big Pharma” and “Big Oil” and “the Wall Street criminals” when these out of control corporations already operate within the parameters set by your Holy Federal Government? How do you dipshits explain that suddenly the Feds are going to work for you when there is an, I don’t know, 239 year history of that NEVER happening? There is however a ton of evidence (that same 239 years) that massive companies are able to basically dictate policy for their benefit, to the detriment of everyone else. Government is inefficient, bloated, corrupt, out of touch, morally bankrupt, and borderline evil. Congrats! You and your mindless ilk are responsible (at least partially) for getting us here and, if you dumb asses get your way, will be responsible for making it worse. Rather than listening to the garbage populist spew, try stopping and thinking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“Redistribution is happening already but it’s headed upwards.”

And has been going on for quite some time now. Funny how some people think it’s OK for it to go in that direction but not the other.

I knew someone who was a rabidly against welfare or social assistance programs. When I say rabid, I mean he would get so worked up ranting against them that he would actually start foaming at the corners of his mouth.

Funny thing is, he spent his days watching Fox News and collecting welfare checks (disability, social security, medicare, food stamps, medicaid, etc.). When confronted with his hypocrisy he would retort that he deserved it because he was different than those “other” people on welfare because back when he worked he paid taxes! Like he was America’s only taxpayer or something.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think the tech sector should publish a statement unanimously every single time one of these ploitician speaks about encryption.
It should be simple, concise and to the point without any possibility of reinterpretation.
Drill it into people’s heads.

“What you are asking for is mathematically impossible.”

Do it often enough and it will become second nature and further arguments will be shot down immediately as they’re suggested.

Anonymous Coward says:

The full quote:

This is something I’ve said for a long time, George. I have to believe that the best minds in the private sector, in the public sector could come together to help us deal with this evolving threat. And you know, I know what the argument is from our friends in the industry. I respect that. Nobody wants to be feeling like their privacy is invaded. This is why we need to go back to the days of secret, unconstitutional surveillance that, being hidden from the public, doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Nobody wants to feel like they’re living in a police state, either. This is why, when I’m elected, the the government will be supplying every single citizen with a daily dose of Xanax.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Those in the Know, know, and those NOT in the Know, don't know, doncha know?

“Disruption in the tech world is about making things cheaper and better, and reinventing markets.”

I think Clinton knows exactly what she is saying here. She wants a cheaper and better ISIS in order to have a platform, any platform, that will increase power for the Government (I was going to say the Executive, but that power is not mutually exclusive, it is all encompassing. Only, the little people are not allowed into the club).

It also appears that all those running for office not only become members of the club, but are required to be members, know the handshake and secret mumble. We know this because there is no apparent candidate who is calling bullshit on the rest of them.

David says:

Re: Those in the Know, know, and those NOT in the Know, don't know, doncha know?

I think Clinton knows exactly what she is saying here. She wants a cheaper and better ISIS […]>

Compared to the budget for the U.S. army, they are doing a heck of an efficient job at keeping the world at edge. Granted, they don’t need to run a propaganda or a recruitment department of their own because the U.S. government is doing those jobs for them.

devil's advocate says:

Re: Re: Those in the Know, know, and those NOT in the Know, don't know, doncha know?

There is a large segment of the citizenry in the Daesh occupied territories that believe, with all their hearts, that the US is in bed with Daesh. This is probably not far from the truth. We are responsible for a lot of their equipment and such. Just sayin.’

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Idiocracy

No, it’ll be FORCED on the average citizen. The honest ones, and the ones too uneducated enough to know how to get around the state mandated (broken) encryption. Why do you think education has fallen so low? The government wants everyone uneducated (despite what they claim) so they’ll be easier to lead around by the nose.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I have to believe that the best minds in the private sector, in the public sector could come together to help us deal with this winged unicorns. And you know, I know what the argument is from our friends in the industry. I respect that.
But I also know what the argument is on the other side from law enforcement and security professionals. So, please, let’s get together and try to figure out the best way forward.”

andy says:

Re: Re: Re:

have a serious read of Bernie’s proposals, a serious look and no not on cnn or fox or any of the msm , on his actual real website.
you would be surprised at how forward thinking he is and the solutions he has for some of the biggest problems, and as with Trump he also is planning on single payer healthcare or something similar.

Sadly the President does not get everything he wants, just look at Obama with his single payer plan that had to be cut down to a mess because republicans wanted him to be a one term president and yes that is the only reason we do not have single payer right now , republicans wanted to ensure Obamacare failed, and in some ways it has sadly.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Rand believes that altruism is evil.

Yes, she did, and so do I. She even wrote a book titled “The Virtue of Selfishness”. Have you read the article you linked to? It explains why. Rand despised “the moochers” who used gov’t power to enrich themselves. She didn’t consider them capitalists. A lot of so-called capitalists (including Trump and the Tesla electric car guy) don’t deserve to call themselves capitalists. They’re about as capitalistic as the PRC or Soviet Union were Marxist communists, meaning in name only.

As a Christian I can’t accept that. I won’t accept that.

Christianity, like most other spirituality, is very altruistic. It’s made religion (the business of capitalizing on spirituality) very profitable.

I, on the other hand, am a “teach a man to fish” kind of guy, so he’ll be able to feed himself. Altruism teaches you to “give a man a fish” instead, so they’ll be locked into dependence on others than themselves. I can’t accept that. I think religion is evil, and spirituality is plain silly.

Rand saw nothing moral nor immoral about charity. You want to be charitable, everybody should have a hobby, have fun. When instead we expect people to be charitable, up to and including forcing them to by gov’t decree (via redistribution via taxation & etc.), sure the hell is immoral. That’s no better than Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher” because dependence is dependence no matter what form it takes.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Rand was selfish and immoral.

Nobody’s perfect, but there’s nothing immoral about being selfish, especially when it’s your stuff you’re being selfish about. If you disagree, then how can you stand to own anything? Give it all away and beg for your supper like Hari Krishnas. Have fun. I won’t be joining you.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Have fun in hell.

You actually still believe in hell? How about the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, zombies, dragons, elves, ogres, and vampires? You really are a fool. Those are fairy tales invented to scare kids into eating their vegetables. They’re not things which should concern adults. Grow up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Obamacare failed because he did nothing to change the cost of healthcare. Now you have to have it, or pay additional penalties on top of the previous ones that had you losing your home and any possessions when the hospital charges you 20x what the health insured were asked to pay. Since you have to have it, the costs have gone up just like the health insurance companies knew would happen. Obamacare was a feel good measure that could never work in the real world, but too many people were invested in it to admit it.

Anonymous Coward says:

The 1% created this problem, let them solve it. Let the Saudis do the decapitating this time. The Russians seem more than eager to take care of the problem. I just hope the 1% don’t finance another Adolph Hitler, most of us know how that one turned out. The 1% playing both sides of the equation while our sons and daughters lay down their lives. Avarice and greed. You will have to execute me before I fight in another one of your “wars”. You can’t even mind your own business wealthy America, what makes you think you can mind the store? I can only hope Bernie wipes up the floor with all of them. And that comes from an old dyed in the wool Republican…

Anonymous Coward says:

Legal Fantasy

Demanding the magical solutions that only affect people with ill intent while ignore everyone else has a name. It is called being insane. The real world has positives and negatives for every legal action and anyone claiming otherwise is either insane or a liar. Of course we might be looking at someone who is both at the same time, but at the very least, they are trying to get you to give up rights and freedoms in return for unsupported “wishes”.

383bigblock (profile) says:

Fix the Liberal Media first

I find it interesting the Hillary blames Facebook, Twitter and Youtube for inciting radicalization and pretty much glorifying radical islam. The problem is not with those media’s which are individually sought out. The problem is with the over the top press and media coverage by the television news outlets. They know they are going to get lots of coverage. It’s not terrorism unless you able to instill terror in lots of people and not just those in the immediate area. As long as we put it front and center and give every pundit talking point time and extensive video coverage this problem will not cease. I don’t think it would be as rampant (mass shootings not associated with terroism as well) if they didn’t get the news coverage. What they’re doing just wouldn’t be as effective without the big media blasting all over the TV night after night after night.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Fix the Liberal Media first

The media is not liberal.

That said, you are otherwise right. The problem we have with the media is that terrorism is completely aligned with the business goals of news channels. Fear and terror make people turn on the news more, and stay tuned longer. Terrorism is great for Nielsen ratings.

This applies to domestic shooters, or political, or theocratic terrorists. It bleeds, it leads. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Fix the Liberal Media first

“The media is not liberal” tends to be the first line out of super leftie’s mouths. Maybe not small news outlets. But I have some oceanfront property in Montana for you if you don’t think the major news outlets in America don’t have an inherent and obvious liberal bias. Look at any article or segment covering guns, states rights, freedom of speech, or taxation from MSNBC, CNN, NYT, AP, Reuter’s, Rolling Stone, USA Today, or The (godawful and borderline criminal) Washington Post, and then try to say that stupid shit that just left your malfunctioning brain again with a straight face.

Kalvan (user link) says:

The emperor's new clothes (again)

Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that a truly secure back-doored encryption could be developed that would miraculously allow only the good people to spy on only the bad people and only with a warrant.

What bad people would use such an encryption when pretty good encryption is already available which does not have a back door. I believe Snowden pointed out that Al Queda has their own in-house developed encryption technology which they are updating and upgrading on an ongoing basis. Not sure what ISIS is doing. But neither they, nor ordinary criminals, would use the government approved encryption.

Even if it wasn’t mathematically impossible,. it is sociologically impossible.

Kalvan (profile) says:

Re: Re: The emperor's new clothes (again)

It’s not clear what you objected to, the misattribution, which I regret, or the content. The content is pretty solid.

Sorry, it’s a day where I’m running on 2 hours of sleep, so I get sloppy. In any case, some days the distinction between what Snowden revealed and what Glen Greenwald said is a bit thin. Here are links to a Greenwald articles and interview and a quote from the interview –

A recent link would be: https://theintercept.com/2015/11/15/exploiting-emotions-about-paris-to-blame-snowden-distract-from-actual-culprits-who-empowered-isis/


“GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah. Well, first of all, all this report said is that the Snowden reporting began in June of 2013, and then in September and December, al-Qaeda had different encryption programs. But the most basic logical premise teaches us that just because event A preceded event B doesn’t mean that event A caused event B. That isn’t evidence of causation. The reality is, is that you can go back to 2001 and find all kind of news stories every year describing the efforts of al-Qaeda to develop sophisticated and advanced forms of encryption. They’ve known forever that the U.S. government wants to electronically surveil their communications. They’ve been developing encryption for many, many years before the Snowden stories ever began. And in August of 2013, the U.S. government, the Obama administration went to the media, to McClatchy and to The Daily Beast, and they bragged about how they had intercepted a conference call between al-Qaeda leaders, in which al-Qaeda leaders were planning to attack U.S. embassies. And according to The New York Times, that leak, that came from the government…”

Bottom line, Al Queda wrote their own encryption software, updated it often, and it is reasonable to assume neither they, nor any other bad guy with half a brain, would use a US government approved encryption package.

If you have evidence to the contrary, post it.

David says:

Re: The emperor's new clothes (again)

miraculously allow only the good people to spy on only the bad people and only with a warrant.

The good people don’t need a fscking warrant. A warrant requirement is a measure of mistrust, and there is no reason to mistrust the good people.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they were still under the impression of bad actors making it into the English government. They could not foresee our modern times where the U.S. government has had recourse to so many trustworthy good people that the idea of oversight is just ridiculous.

Inexorable Truth says:

“Hillary Clinton had, unfortunately, joined in with other clueless politicians to call for “Silicon Valley” to “develop solutions” to the “concerns of law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals” on “encryption.””…..

As “if” she were a “viable candidate” otherwise. She’s too busy defaulting to “lying piece of shit” to be a human being (let alone a viable candidate).

Anonymous Coward says:

But I also know what the argument is on the other side from law enforcement and security professionals.

Instead of saying security professionals, she should have said “..from law enforcement and the folks we pay to ‘defend the homeland’, who look increasingly inept with each new day and and will be run out of town because they promised the impossible: to keep us all totally safe, warm, and fuzzy. But hey, look at how well they’ve done! We have no worries about weapons on planes… er.. bombings of public high profile events…er.. hang on, I’ll think of something.”

Security professionals worth their salaries know that this idea of secure-while-also-insecure encryption doesn’t work, wouldn’t fix the problem (encryption is obviously the only reason terrorists can accomplish anything) and don’t want any part of it.

You want intelligence? GO FSCKING EARN IT.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Logic Fail

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about The Transitive Law? No more Logic?

CLINTON: This is something I’ve said for a long time, George. I have to believe that the best minds in the private sector, in the public sector could come together to help us deal with this evolving threat. And you know, I know A = B and B = C. I respect that. Nobody wants B to not = C.

But I also know that if the best minds just work with us on this problem, we could make it so that A does not = C. So, please, let’s get together and try to figure out the best way forward. I know Silicon Valley can make A <> C.

Anonymous Coward says:

There isn't even an argument here...

Why the heck is it that it seems that these people are winning?
I am assuming here, that there should be some tech smart people that have worked on this problem for quite a while… What have they come up with?
I find one thing in common in these arguments to “find a solution to encryption”: There is nothing there! Nobody even has a slight hint of a plan or a way to do this.
In programming there are 5 steps, each with several mini-steps.
Step 1 is: Clarify Programming Needs.
Mini-step 1 is: Carify Objective and Users.
They fail the very first part of the first step! Nobody carifies the objective or the users in other than very vague terms that all hint at “the good guys”.
There isn’t even a hint of an outline of anything that resemples a plan. I will bet anyone that they have spent 10’s or 100’s of millions in research already with absolutely nothing to show.
It is digraceful that they are still in office when they act like that.

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