FBI Director Says 'Smart People' At Office Supply Companies Can Help Limit Terrorists' Access To Pen And Paper
from the also-has-concerns-about-auto-manufacturers-offering-locking-trucks-by-default dept
Another terrorist attack (this one thwarted) has renewed calls for private companies to work more closely with law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The pair were arrested in counter-terror raids in Sydney’s west yesterday with police saying they and three other conspirators were involved in “formulating documents connected with preparations to facilitate, assist or engage a person to undertake a terrorist act”.
The group of alleged extremists used handwritten notes to plot a Sydney attack in a bit to circumvent police and ASIO surveillance, The Australian reports.
The scrawled messages circulating between the group allegedly detailed the an attack on a government building, believed to be the AFP’s Sydney headquarters.
FBI Director James Comey has spent the last several months expressing his concern that criminals and terrorists are eluding justice by using off-the-shelf products offered by manufacturers nationwide — paper, pens, shredders, trash cans, etc.*
“We aren’t seeking anything more than what we’ve always been able to obtain with court orders, subpoenas and warrants. But now, this information is unavailable to us, thanks to decisions being made by some very smart people who have, for whatever reason, decided to start supplying their customers with these items.”
Comey acknowledged that a legislated ban on these items is highly unlikely, but pointed out that the lack of access to handwritten notes was on its way to becoming a day-to-day occurrence for law enforcement.
“The reality is that terrorist plots are going to be carried out, kids are going to be kidnapped and to-do lists are going be executed — and law enforcement will be locked out. We go to Georgia-Pacific, Bic or Royal with a warrant and we still can’t obtain the communications we’re seeking because these companies have decided to allow their customers to use a destructible form of communication.”
Addressing his critics, Comey coldly noted that approaching third parties for access to these communications has also been a dead end.
“We’ve sought the assistance of Staples, Office Depot and other office supply retailers, but have been stymied completely by the incredulous laughter of their legal representatives, along with their demands to know whether ‘we’re serious’ and ‘Where’s the camera? Is this one of those punk’d shows?'”
Comey again expressed his belief that a solution is out there, but it takes law enforcement and nation’s top office supply companies working together.
“There are some very smart people running these companies and I think if they were willing to apply themselves to the problem, they could come up with a solution.”
The administration has less-than-firmly stated that it won’t look into mandating the elimination of this communication method. Congress has similarly shown little support for Comey’s quest to achieve the impossible.
But some long-time supporters of the NSA — along with presidential candidates who believe everything the AP prints — are calling for more extreme measures to be taken in response to recent terrorist attacks.
Sen. Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and a handful of others are touting a plan for mandatory internet usage.
“Extremists and terrorists are hiding behind pen-and-paper while carrying out their violent plans. This is unacceptable. If the nation is going to be secure, citizens and non-citizens residing in the US should be required to use internet-based communication methods, preferably of the unencrypted variety.”
Comey agreed that something must be done to prevent today’s criminals from “going looseleaf.” The key, he says, is no longer in the government’s hands. It’s in the hands of private companies, who he feels are more interested in their bottom line than a secure nation.
“It’s not a security issue. It’s a business model issue,” Comey said, adding that customers should pressure companies into abandoning the production of these archaic items. “In a world where iPad-like devices are as prevalent as National Security Letters, it makes no sense for the Hammermills of the nation to continue to offer archaic communication methods.”
*Just in case it wasn’t obvious, nothing in the above post actually happened other than the thwarted terrorist attack in which the suspects used handwritten notes to avoid surveillance. They also used text messages, which was (part of) their downfall. But arguments against encryption because some bad people use it are no different than arguments against pen/paper, which also helps bad people avoid the scrutiny of law enforcement.