FBI Director James Comey Continues To Be The 'Fringe Candidate' Of The Encryption Debate

from the 'I'm-not-an-expert-but-I'm-unshakable-in-my-belief-that-I'm-righ dept

Ahead of a keynote address at Kenyon College, FBI director James Comey made himself available for an interview with Eric Geller of the Daily Dot, in which he assured readers that he is still making use of some very dusty talking points.

For the dozenth time, Comey once again asserted his belief that unicorns are not only real, but that smart people at tech companies can provide him with one.

“I think it’s a bit of a false premise to say that the only answer to the challenge we face is to introduce vulnerabilities into code,” Comey told the Daily Dot, before adding, “I’ll leave that to experts.”

This is Comey’s backdoor: a backdoor for all intents and purposes, except that he refuses to call it a backdoor. It’s a secret entrance, only known to law enforcement, intelligence agencies and any other government entity that might like access to encrypted devices. It’s a bell that can’t be unrung, but Comey thinks the FBI can ring it quietly enough, provided the smart tech people come up with a foolproof way to suppress the ringing noise.

Experts — hundreds of them — have already offered their opinion. What Comey wants is impossible without introducing abusable vulnerabilities. And while the FBI was seeking access to the infamous San Bernardino iPhone, dozens of experts offered their help, but the FBI wasn’t interested. And yet, Comey soldiers on, secure in his delusion that the “experts” will fix his problem, on his terms, even after he and his agency have done all they can to alienate them. No one has made more out of their own ignorance than Comey, who seems to be willfully avoiding any actual discussions with experts — experts who will very definitely disabuse him of his stupid, dangerous notions.

But that’s not the dumbest statement made by Comey in this interview. He tops himself later while addressing the possible repercussions of forcing tech companies to glue horns on horses to sastify his unicorn requests.

Asked about the danger of pushing people to foreign platforms by limiting U.S. encryption, Comey seemed to suggest that the answer was to regulate encryption worldwide. “Every country that cares about the rule of law cares about this,” he said. “I think whatever we come up with—we as a people that care about these issues, in and out of government—it has to have some international component to it.”

Let me get this straight: the guy who couldn’t even persuade Congress that it was a good idea to force one company to help unlock one phone believes he can talk the rest of the world into getting on board with his anti-encryption plans. If insanity is doing saying the same thing over and over and expecting different results responses, then his planned “we are the backdoored world” singalong is basically Comey assuring the general public that he is mentally unfit — without having to urinate on himself or submit 244 pages of truther theories as Exhibit A to an unamused judge.

The audacity of that shrug (“no prob, we’ll just get the rest of the world to bend to my will”) is breathtaking. The best thing the FBI could do to protect its iPhone-cracking interests is chain Comey to a desk in a basement and go back to delivering a steady stream of “no comments” through DOJ lawyers.

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Comments on “FBI Director James Comey Continues To Be The 'Fringe Candidate' Of The Encryption Debate”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Not entirely wrong

He’s not completely mistaken, I’m sure a great many governments and groups around the world absolutely love the idea of having access to any and all data created, sent and stored by the citizens in their country, though I imagine the list of those that want such thing would not be one he’d be all that eager to present to support his position, given what types would top the list.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Funny thing about that, the same people who claim that it absolutely can be done, that a back-door/golden key/unicorn gate can be created that only allows ‘The Good Guys’ access can be created if the tech companies ‘just try harder’ also tend to be near or completely lacking in tech related skills or knowledge, so they wouldn’t be able to.

Pure coincidence I’m sure how the two groups overlap like that, with those who don’t know anything about the tech in question also tending to be the same people who claim that it can be done, but like I said I’m sure that’s purely coincidental.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s like he thinks of people who work on new technologies as scatterbrain idiots who shit out miracles under pressure.

I think maybe he’s watched too much star trek and can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality. He thinks himself Kirk standing on the bridge asking Scotty how long it’ll take to get the engines back online, and Scotty tells him it’ll take at least 8 hours, to which he replies “We need those engines back online in 3 hours or we’re all dead!”

Anonymous Coward says:

According to james Comey, anybody who reveals government malfeasance and overreach should be prosecuted for every charge they can come up with, as governments are entitled to keep their crimes secret. At the same time, any citizens data that they wish to look at, whether or not they live in the US, should be available to law enforcement and the security services. In other words, the government can do no wrong, and its doing should be kept secret; while everybody else is a potential criminal or terrorist and should have no privacy at all.

kallethen says:

So tired of the "Leave it to the experts" catch phrase

Ugh. I’m so tired of this. It’s like the only way government officials know how to talk about whatever thing they want to believe something that is impossible/improbable.

Encryption backdoors: It doesn’t make sense they are impossible, but I’ll leave it to the experts.

Global warming: I don’t believe humans are causing global warming, but I’ll leave that to the experts.

Seriously… it’s the grown-up equivalent of sticking fingers in your ears and yelling “La la la la la la! I’m not listening!”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: So tired of the "Leave it to the experts" catch phrase

“I don’t understand X, so I’ll ask the experts on the subject to explain it to me” is actually the reasonable course of action when you don’t know enough to make an informed choice or statement on something. Where it goes wrong is when they say ‘I’ll ask/leave it to the experts’, as in this case, and then completely ignore what the experts say if it conflicts with their position.

plonked plonker says:

encription for programers 101 :: not so hard actually

Programmers will protect themselves from this overreach. Encription is not that hard. Imagine if everyone used their own creative encription, then the government would have to crack every program everytime, not just a one time crack then have it all. This would cost vast amount of money, and undermine the entire neocon agenda. Sure it might not be very hard to crack but imagine not very hard to crack every time you want access, not once but millions of times.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: encription for programers 101 :: not so hard actually

“Encription is not that hard. Imagine if everyone used their own creative encription”

Coming up with a new, effective encryption scheme is very hard.

People who want to break encryption would be thrilled if everyone invented their own unique algorithms, because 99.99% of them will be breakable.

WeTheSheeple says:

Yeah Timmah… those damn truthers. We already know everything there is to know about 911 and the US gubbmint wouldn’t lie or hide things from us ever… oh…. except when they do:


Truthers already knew the Saudis had a big hand in 911. Why no troops in Saudi?
Sibel Edmonds knew and tried to tell people. Then she was gagged.

But it’s ok Timmah… you go on believing that radical cavemen hijacked 3 planes and thwarted the best air defense the world’s money can buy.

Even the Official Pentagon Building Performance report noted an explosion absent of any plane that pushed the second floor upward. But I guess Timmah never read that one. Or anything else that wasn’t Gubbmint approved.

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