Senator Mitch McConnell To Obama: Please, Just Tell Us What Law You Need To Ban Encryption And You'll Get It

from the begging-to-undermine-american-security dept

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has always been a friend of the intelligence community, but he’s using the attack in San Bernadino to ramp up the anti-encryption insanity to new levels, practically begging President Obama to tell him what law he wants to ban encryption, and McConnell will help make sure Congress delivers. McConnell’s statement was laying out what he thought President Obama should do in response to ISIS, and includes this ridiculous line:

He should tell us what legal authorities he needs to defeat encrypted online communications, and what is needed to reestablish our capture, interrogation, and surveillance capabilities.

“Defeat encrypted online communications”? Is he crazy? We need encrypted online communications to better protect us, and yet McConnell is trying to undermine those communications. He’s actively proposing to make us all less safe. And, of course, talking about “reestablishing” our “surveillance capabilities” is about giving the NSA more surveillance powers. McConnell was, of course, the key person who tried to block any attempt at rolling back the NSA’s unconstitutional phone records collection program.

Now, we know that President Obama didn’t go quite as far as McConnell asked, but he did still push for a more “voluntary” solution — which may morph into Congress doing something if people don’t speak out loudly about what an incredibly dumb idea this is.

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 “Senator Mitch McConnell To Obama: Please, Just Tell Us What Law You Need To Ban Encryption And You'll Get It”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This isn’t Mitch McConnell being clueless. This is Mitch McConnell gleefully seizing upon an unrelated tragedy to his own agenda to help his buddies in the spy community. This is Mitch McConnell being delighted that a bunch of innocent people died in a manner that he can take advantage of to try and get what he wants.

The dangers aren’t something he cares about. He doesn’t think that him or his buddies will be harmed, so no matter how badly the rest of the country would be screwed over it doesn’t matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Term limits will just mean a more steady flow of bodies through the revolving door that connects congress and corporate interests. They tried it in Florida and it’s been a disaster.

The root causes of the problem are money in politics + voter apathy. Fix those two and the rest of our problems are solvable

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If they’d stop effing over their constituents and selling out everything and everyone the highest bidder at every opportunity maybe more people would be less apathetic. It’s so toxic that people have stopped caring. We’ve all be alienated and disenfranchised. If you think you haven’t, you’re either not paying attention or are 1%. Trying to reason with people who won’t be reasoned with is an effort in futility.

Nathan F (profile) says:

News at 11!

I’m so looking forward to the news report a year or so after these backdoor’s get put in.

Newscaster: And in the Finical World, the New York Stock Exchange reports that hackers were able to infiltrate their systems and set up hundreds of thousands of bogus transactions making it impossible to tell which were valid and which were fraudulent. No word on how much was lost just yet.

NXTangl says:

Re: Just ban XOR.

I realize that this is a joke, but I’m sorry, this is just obviously not enough to ban.

Looking at the truth table for XOR, we can clearly see:
00 – 0
01 – 1 connection
10 – 1 connection
11 – 0

that a XOR b = ((NOT a) AND B) OR ((NOT b) AND a)

[a little more work also turns up a XOR b = ((NOT a) OR (NOT b)) AND (a OR b)]

So we need to ban NOT. (We could try banning AND or OR, but DeMorgan tells us that this is ineffective if NOT is still available.)

However, on most machines, NOT a can be implemented as 1 – a.

So we need to ban -, too, and then we’re done.
Until congress realizes that a sufficiently determined individual could just implement NOT one bit at a time, but eh, they’re not that bright.

Anyway, what I came here to say was this: “If cryptography is outlawed, then only outlaws will have cryptography. Also, how do these idiots keep getting elected?”

John Cressman (profile) says:

Saying it again...

I’ll say it again… maybe it will catch on…

All members of Congress, judges, etc. need to be required to take aptitude tests in subjects… technology, foreigh affairs, etc.

If you don’t pass, you don’t get to vote on or propose any legislation on that subject. Sorry… you’re representative couldn’t vote on that… well, next time elect someone with a clue!

And judges are even worse… making a judgement on something they don’t have a clue on is like asking your mechanic to decide what medication you should be on for your high blood pressure.

It’s INSANE that we have clueless idiots making laws about things they don’t understand.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Saying it again...

uh, mr. cressman, i’m afraid i have some bad news for you:
um, first, ‘competency’, ‘knowledge’, ‘experience’, and ‘expertise’ have NOTHING to do with being a mainstream politician…
please disabuse yourself of that non-starter…

and while there are some clueless dolts who are twue bewievers and spout whatever idiotic crap their handlers tell them to, most are smart enough to realize what they are selling is snake oil, but they don’t care, it is all about power and perquisites…
the way to get those power and perquisites is to do the bidding of the 1%…
the way to NOT get power and perquisites is to do the bidding of the 99%…
it IS that simple…

it has actually been ‘proven’ that the wants/needs of 99% of us have close to ZERO influence on the political system…
there are all kinds of realizations which should follow from that factoid…
(‘show me an acorn, and i can deduce the universe’, kind of thing…)

Anonymous Coward says:

“what legal authorities he needs to defeat encrypted online communications”

How about just flipping the internet ‘kill switch’ that the President already has? Just get on with it and push the fscking button !!

Go on, we’ll wait as the economy disintegrates, the stock market vaporises, Mitch’s bank account is emptied, and the lights go off. Let’s just get it over with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Go on, we’ll wait as the economy disintegrates

And a new one appears, decentralized with mesh networks and cryptocurrencies.

The Internet is getting a little long in the tooth, killing it could encourage development and adoption of successor technologies. Technologies that could have security and anonymity baked in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

requires an infrastructure company to implement them.
Long range wifi is possible, it’s just not legal to transmit at high power. With the current regulatory environment I don’t think that will change soon. Encryption is already illegal over ham radio so it’s a non-starter for anything useful.

Erik (profile) says:

Violation of the oath

The job of a congress-person is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Seeing as McConnell is advocating policy that is in contradiction to the Constitution, he is in violation of his sworn responsibilities. Law enforcement should surveil him, “detain” him, and “interrogate” him using only the most enhanced techniques and then share all the information collected to the citizenry. Then he can understand personally what it would feel like to live in a totalitarian society where you have no privacy and are subject to vague interpretations of secret laws.

hij (profile) says:

Terrorists and their https URLs

Just noticed that this site automatically directs to an https URL. Perhaps I should be notifying Senator McConnell about this travesty. Is it any wonder that the terrorists who run this site are so adamant about keeping their encryption? If you have nothing to hide then you should be doing everything neckid, in your front yard in full view of your neighbors.

Anonymous Coward says:

It might not be terrorism, but...

these kind of intentions are something equally, or more dangerous.
How is this not an intended attack on freedom? First of all: we know that this is going to be misused big time, by our own elected politicians and law enforcement.
Second of all: Everybody who knows the slightest about the subject are pretty sure that it is going to cause chaos and make everybody less safe, not just on the internet but in real life too.
Third of all: This access to all information is a weapon too powerful for anyone to have. How are they going to restrict it to just the socalled “good guys”? They talk about being the only ones with this power, but this is not fairy tail land! There is no magic to keep information contained. Not only will there be people who are willing to sell to the highest bidder, but the government themselves have more leaks and holes than a sieve. This is all or nothing here, and everyone votes to keep the lion in the cage.

People are scared of terrorists, but it is our own politicians who are the most dangerous, and the most likely to destroy society.
You, Senator McConnell, may not be a terrorist by definition, but you are a traitor to the people of your country and the people of the world.

ThatDevilTech (profile) says:

What I'm waiting for....

Ok, so say they DO get their “wish” and the tech companies pull all encryption and they make it where you can’t install anything at all (unlikely, I know but work with me here).

Say they do get their wish and encryption is eradicated….so tell me Senator….what happens the first time YOUR credit card or bank information gets out in the wild and YOU have your identity stolen? They’re just following the “law” but you’ll want someone arrested, I am sure.

Encryption is necessary to day to day life in the tech world. It is necessary in the banking world. In the business world in general. Encryption should not be touched. It should continue to get stronger as new threats come up.

IF encryption is outlawed, good luck getting the horses back into the barn once they realize the errors of their ways. But, who am I kidding, they aren’t the people that will get hurt the most. They’ll just dance around with their fingers in their ears saying “lalala I can’t HEAR you” and look more stupid than they already do.

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem is that Congress doesn’t have the authority to ban encryption in the technology sector. It’s like trying to ban the ‘locking’ feature on cellphones, it’s beyond the scope of Congress.

Even if they did manage to ban encryption, it opens the Federal government into a massive number of lawsuits because everywhere you look, from credit cards to websites, to online retailers to security software, uses encryption. It would literally set off a chain reaction that would clog up the federal courts to such a degree that our court system would crash under the extreme weight.

Not to mention the fact that such a move by congress would never survive a court challenge.

ThatDevilTech (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not saying it will happen. I hope to Hades it doesn’t. But, I just know that IF it did somehow happen and encryption disappeared, the first time there’s a problem they’ll be asking why it happened….all they’ll have to do is look at themselves. But, they won’t. They’ll blame someone or something else. And thus the cycle-o-stupid continues.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m sure all the black market weapons dealers will be more
>than happy to start doing background checks for all their
>illegal gun sales.

At that point there would be a clear crime to get them on.

At this time of year when the NRA doesn’t fly an American flag from it’s HQ in Fairfax VA because it interferes with the Christmas light cone on the roof I find it hard to think they are patriots.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m tired of our leadership speaking about bravery from one side of their mouths, and drafting tyranny out of fear from the other.

Should brave leaders create secret lists of suspected enemies?

Should a brave leaders violate the sanctity of the information that shapes people’s lives?

Should brave leaders break the minds, bodies, and spirits of people through the pain and abuse of torture?

I keep hoping to hear the right answer, because there is one, and continue to be disappointed.

Personanongrata says:

Mitch McConnell Wants a Unicorn Too

Senator Mitch McConnell To Obama: Please, Just Tell Us What Law You Need To Ban Encryption And You’ll Get It

Hello senator and grand poobah Mitch McConnell every electronic gadget you (and everyone else) own(s) that connects to a network operates with one type of encryption or another.

There is no banning/weakening encryption (without catastrophic affects) just like there are no unicorns.

This is the type of defective thinking that bankrupts a nation both fiscally and morally.

Ancient Russian proverb:

The fish rots from the head.

Dkone says:

So fed up

So I get home today and read/listen to the news, here are the highlights:

1. Obama talks on TV last night, admits the CA attack was terrorism, but says don’t worry it wasn’t a part of a bigger group. OK, WTF is Jihadist Islam if not the big picture terror group.

2. Donald Trump is calling for a ban of all Muslims coming into the country, regardless of immigration or tourist. I actually agree with that part, the rest of the story was all the other running politicians calling him crazy and this was yet another sign he doesn’t have the experience in politics. Yet in the techdirt article I am leaving this comment in, is politicians just doing their normal knee jerk reaction stuff; ban gun sales to the no fly list, back doors to encryption, you know the normal stupid shit they do. So if I had to pick between Trump and the status quo, well bring on Trump.

3. The ‘real’ politicians calling for no encryption and no gun sales to people on the no fly list. I say let them pass the gun sales into law right away, it is the perfect do nothing feel good thing for a ‘real’ politician and the best part is that it doesn’t affect me. As far as the encryption debate goes, I say lets give the government what they want IF and only IF they can catch someone that is not using encryption first. Say for example a woman that posts here allegiance to ISIS on Facebook or husband that goes to Syria and/or Saudi twice in the last couple years and then they go on a non group associated terror spree.

So no more reading the news for me for a few days, weeding through the bullshit is tiring.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: So fed up

A couple of thoughts:

“OK, WTF is Jihadist Islam if not the big picture terror group.”

A small (compared to the overall Muslim population) extremist bunch of religious fundamentalists. But, not one that’s particularly organised as a group within the US.

“ban of all Muslims coming into the country, regardless of immigration or tourist. I actually agree with that part”

Why. Are you actually scared that all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are actually out to attack you? What about the diplomats, entrepreneurs, tourists and other Muslims who are benefiting your country? What about the millions of American citizens who are also Muslim? Do they get a pass because barring them would clearly violate the constitution, or is there some other logic for ensuring them free passage while blocking others?

Also, how do you determine who is and isn’t a Muslim, since religious affiliation isn’t on a passport or other official documentation. Are you just going to use racial profiling (so ignoring black and Caucasian Muslims but negatively affecting Christian and non-religious Arabs), or do you honestly think that someone determined to attack you is incapable of lying about their religion in order to get through customs?

“Yet in the techdirt article I am leaving this comment in, is politicians just doing their normal knee jerk… well bring on Trump.”

You don’t see Trump’s rhetoric as being knee-jerk responses to what’s happening? Really? None of it seems particularly thought through. Hell, half of it has been a reaction to what happened in Paris, even though most of the people involved in those attacks were not immigrants.

“I say let them pass the gun sales into law right away”

Practically, you’d have to fix the no-fly list first. It’s already proven pretty useless for accurately screening people already, although it has caused no end of pain for many innocent people. You should call for fixing that, before calling for it be used to remove further rights without due process.

“So no more reading the news for me for a few days, weeding through the bullshit is tiring.”

Yet, you seem to be favouring one of the biggest bullshit artists of them all. Weird.

Ryunosuke says:

I have to question something....

I have to question the qualifications of (some) of our elected officials. The statements made are nothing short of out right retarded (the dictionary definition and not a slang definition).

The reason I say they are mentally handicapped, in the most literal sense, is that what they are asking for is so monumentally STUPID, that only someone with down’s syndrome can make.

Lets take a list of other things that should be banned because “Bad guys” use them, shall we?

Air – Bad guys breath air, so lets ban air
Food – Bad guys like to eat food, so lets ban food too.
Cars – Cars are used to do bad things, like drunk driving, so lets all go back to horse and buggies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, I agree with you entirely on encryption, but your tone these days is reaching “shrieking internet loon” levels.
I know it’s a chore to keep pointing out the same people are still exactly the same level of utterly, utterly wrong every single day, but please try and keep your tone civil and approachable. You do nobody any favours by driving off open minds with this reflexive anger.

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...