Former Presidential Cybersecurity 'Czar' Slams DOJ/FBI For Its Position On Apple Encryption
from the speak-louder dept
For many years, if you mentioned the term “cybersecurity czar” in the federal government, it only meant Richard Clarke. He was one of the earliest people to focus on computer security as an issue, and as such, became an advisor to multiple presidents on the issue. I haven’t always agreed with him — there have been points in the past where he’s appeared as a leading voice in support of greater surveillance and exaggerated claims about a coming “cyberwar”. However, in the past few years, Clarke has become much better on these issues, warning (just prior to Snowden’s revelations) that the US’s focus on surveillance has actually made the public less safe by leaving vulnerabilities open, rather than closing them.
And now he’s weighed in, quite vocally, on the whole Apple v. the FBI thing, strongly in support of Apple. To some extent, this isn’t a huge surprise as he was among a large group of smart folks who signed onto a letter a year ago opposing encryption backdoors, but his NPR interview gave him a chance to be quite explicit in just how dumb the FBI/DOJ’s requests are. It’s worth listening to the whole thing, or at least reading the transcript, but here are a few key highlights. Specifically, he argues that the FBI is lying in saying that it can’t get access to the content on the phone, and just wants to set a precedent:
If I were in the job now, I would have simply told the FBI to call Fort Meade, the headquarters of the National Security Agency, and NSA would have solved this problem for them. They’re not as interested in solving the problem as they are in getting a legal precedent…. Every expert I know believes that NSA could crack this phone. They want the precedent that the government can compel a computer device manufacturer to allow the government in.
Earlier in the interview, he totally dismisses the idea that there’s a big dispute in the administration about this, saying that it’s just the FBI and DOJ exaggerating:
Well, I don’t think it’s a fierce debate. I think the Justice Department and the FBI are on their own here. You know, the secretary of defense has said how important encryption is when asked about this case. The National Security Agency director and three past National Security Agency directors, a former CIA director, a former Homeland Security secretary have all said that they’re much more sympathetic with Apple in this case. You really have to understand that the FBI director is exaggerating the need for this and is trying to build it up as an emotional case, organizing the families of the victims and all of that. And it’s Jim Comey and the attorney general is letting him get away with it.
It’s good to see more officials speaking out and calling bullshit on the FBI/DOJ claims on all of this.