French Government Wants A 'Global Initiative' To Undermine Encryption And Put Everyone At Risk

from the this-is-a-bad,-bad-idea dept

Some bad ideas never seem to die. It appears that the French government is working to enlist other countries to try to undermine encryption and put us all at much greater risk. That’s about the only way to read the news that French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve is promoting a “global initiative” to “fight” messaging encryption used by ISIS.

Messaging encryption, widely used by Islamist extremists to plan attacks, needs to be fought at international level, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Thursday, and he wants Germany to help him promote a global initiative.

He meets his German counterpart, Thomas de Maiziere, on Aug. 23 in Paris and they will discuss a European initiative with a view to launching an international action plan, Cazeneuve said.

Remember, of course, that much of the planning and communications for the Paris attacks last year were done without encryption, and in fact much of the planning was done fairly out in the open with little effort to mask what was happening. Of course, that won’t always be true — and certainly it’s quite likely that people are plotting all sorts of nasty stuff with encryption — but even then that doesn’t actually result in law enforcement “going dark” as they’d have you believe. First of all, encryption is still difficult to use and easy to mess up. In fact, most reports suggest that ISIS is pretty bad about its opsec when it comes to encryption. And, even if they are successfully using encryption, they still leave plenty of other breadcrumbs for law enforcement and the intelligence community to track.

On top of that, any effort to weaken encryption is both dangerous and pointless. A mandate for backdoors or something similar only introduces vulnerabilities into encryption that will be targeted by criminals (and possibly terrorists!) putting many, many, many more people at risk. And it’s pointless because there are enough open source encryption products at this point that trying to regulate other products won’t help much. ISIS will just focus on using code they already have access to.

So none of this adds up, other than as a stupid reactionary move out of fear and ignorance. A “global initiative” to fight encryption ignores the fact that encryption isn’t some invisibility cloak that masks all terrorist activity. It also makes us all less safe, and probably won’t stop ISIS from actually using strong encryption. So what is the point other than shadowboxing and making it look like politicians are doing something, when they’re not sure what to do about possible attacks?

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 “French Government Wants A 'Global Initiative' To Undermine Encryption And Put Everyone At Risk”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
43 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The finger point!

The soon to be age old excuse, they used encryption, to cover up their failure to follow leads that law enforcement have used for decades to solve crimes, before they had encryption to point their fingers at. I’m not sure if laziness is a sufficient reason, maybe too many haystacks are a contributing factor, there may be others. Getting back to basics would be a good idea.

Maybe they should re-read the Sherlock Holmes novels for some direction.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"We won't allow you to put our citizens at risk, we'll do it ourselves!"

So add the french government to the pro-criminal, pro-terrorist lot I guess. Really, if they want to help criminals they could send them a fruit basket or something, they don’t need to go above and beyond by gift-wrapping the public and handing it on a silver platter to every criminal out there.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 12th, 2016 @ 7:47pm

We don’t have disdain for metric measurement, we just object to the base unit as they’re crazy. How about a compromise?

A foot would be defined as the distance light travels in one nanosecond. That’s 11.8 inches, close enough to a foot that people won’t notice. Then make the foot 10 inches. Make a mile 5 kilofeet. That’s 93% of the current mile… close enough again. See? Metric while still being familiar, and more based on something tangible than the meter!

Dave Cortright says:

The banking system uses encryption

Anyone who argues for backdoors should have all of their investment and banking accounts put in a system with a backdoor. That would only be used by the “good guys” for “good reasons”. And while we’re at it, their email & texts goes into a similarly backdoored system. Let’s see how loud they argue for it then.

Tyl says:

Re: The banking system uses encryption

Every time these proposals are put into writing there are always exceptions for the government and their friends, like the bankers. It’s the peons/serfs/little people that they don’t want using encryption because it makes harder to keep an eye on them and they sure as hell don’t want to surprised by some king of uprising.

Scooby Doo says:

Re: didn't this already happen this week?

For the record, secureboot didn’t leak any actual “keys”. What did leak is a policy that can be installed into secureboot and disables its checks – you might call that a “key” to secureboot since it definitely “unlocks” it. But the crypto keys themselves that actually sign and authenticate things in secureboot have not leaked. I find that a notable distinction, although the general point of stuff being unavoidably leaky does stand.

Monday (profile) says:

Data Colection

The French blaming ISIL has been a standard ploy the United States has used for years – starting with Iraq circa 2001. Terrorism is the first best scariest tactic in any developed country’s arsenal of Data Collection.

Never-mind the War On Terror is actually showing tangible results. ISIL is fifteen thousand fighters strong at the moment. And, they possess thread-like holds on their past conquests. 15k down from an estimated 55k to 70k active fighters by previous accounts, and the press release by US gov this week.

Open Access for more security nationally, or internationally, is a red-herring. The GOP is reconsidering its stands on encryption because of the DNC Hack.

I thought the French would have become more involved in the Coalition, but there doesn’t seem to be any serious military reaction from that Government.

But, encryption is the topic, and ISIL doesn’t use it, and if they do, the Governments are not telling us – they would be showing us the cards they’re holding.

Encryption, anonymity, or anything tool that prevents collecting data is not good for Business – the Governments intruding into private citizens business.

This is afterthought concerning French Domestic policy. They have had more than their fair share of assaults on their security, but half of these attacks are not actually attributable to ISIL. It is an after-the-fact claims made by the terror organization – an awful lot of their attacks seem to share the same motus of Mental Health issues. The flags were there. The people just were not educated enough, or willing to play the roll of armchair Psychologist – although both the Armchair Doc and the educated Doc cannot write prescriptions.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Hurt the good guys, help the bad guys

The argument often made in favor of privately-held weapons (which, like it or not, has an element of truth) applies even more strongly in this case.

Criminals and terrorists don’t obey the law. That’s why they’re criminals.

If you mandate backdoors or weaken encryption, all you accomplish is to weaken the defenses of the law-abiding, while leaving the bad guys with strong encryption.

You make the situation worse rather than better.

(Worse for civil society, that is. If you’re law enforcement, you might care more about “making busts” than you do about protecting citizens. If so, I suppose backdoors look good to you.)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

I suspect French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve represents the opinion of France...

…about as much as Obama (or Clinton, or Trump) represents the opinion of the US.

Cazeneuve wants backdoored encryption because he’s in a bourgeois position. And he probably wants it for the proletariat only, not his fellow elites.

As he’s French, he should be aware of Napoleonic Law.

Anonymous Coward says:

for all those not educated in how a government needs to stay in power and survive… govt’s do not care about the odd terrorist attack or the loss of life. they fear the people being able to understand and revolt against the system. do you really think that the govt’s are emotionally shattered over a few dozen terrorist related deaths when at the same time they do nothing about the hundreds of deaths that occur by gang violence or drug wars or any number of other scourges that occur on a daily basis? they want to watch YOU for fear of an uprising against them. these terror attacks are their excuse — their ticket — towards securing their power.

Monday (profile) says:

Re: Socialist Begginings - Hidden Future

It is a bit of a stretch, reaching an analogous conclusion, but it works at a deep level.

I’ll answer a couple of other posts while I’m getting to you. Both Companies have seemed to have melted into the Sofa; VW has never been ostracized let alone punished for their offenses – sneaky Germans right? 😀 Micro$oft has absolutely tefloned themselves past the 900 million Android fiasco. Unless, unless you actually make a concerted effort to find the news on this, nobody is talking about – is going to talk about it.

What would happen to any one private individual – I am hypothesizing as Companies and Corporations are viewed as People, don’t forget – if they brought a Virus to light, from the climes of some deep, dark African or South American jungle, and it was one hundred percent lethal, and was going to kill millions – Volkswagen – or a billion people – Micro$oft – Do we honestly think that this wouldn’t be front page news for the rest of our natural lives? That is what a backdoor to encryption is. It is a virus with one hundred percent lethality, and it cannot be stopped, or cured with an apology. Much like Nature in its own way with every “backdoor” to the Human Immune System – Nature, that Company, is untouchable, and unapologetic.

The French Revolution was a battle for Freedom, Liberty, Equality, and Property – it was a very bloody end to a regime that didn’t “[make] them eat cake”, but preferred to have them labour in conditions that were so inhospitable and alien, a human body could not exist – physically, let alone mentally, in Grotesque (I use the Italian noun form). They demanded rights…

We have our rights! Let us all use them. BUT, and this I definitely have no answer for, how does anyone or anything get a billion people united?

If M$ Windows had a backdoor that could be exploited where it absolutely made one billion computers dead, would that get our intentions and inclinations on the right path? What is the right path? I started University thirsty and hungry for knowledge, I graduated – I owed a hundred grand… there was no Google and Wikipedia, I expected to be constantly tested, nevertheless prepared , for whatever was thrown at me.

How does someone WIN, and ever have to be argued with again over encryption?

Memories are not what they used to be. They are days long, as compared to the decades that used to exist. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have just passed us. I did what I could to remind people of those two horror shows – experiments with a new concept of industrialized death – Wikipedia the whole process that led to the creation of atomic weapons, but nobody remembered. I was re-tweeted a dozen times – not the thousands of outraged voices that should have been singing. People just don’t remember, or they just don’t care – that is what makes a Trump Presidency so scary. Trump’s a backdoor to a world of hurt – FOR EVERY ONE LIVING… it’s as simple as that.

A Politician wants backdoors, for information gathering purposes, don’t wash this any other way, and VW and M$ are prime examples of what happens with any backdoor, exploited on an industrialized level.

Gilbert says:

Dont be fooled. France, while being under control of a socialist country, what it really is, is a fascist country.

A country where some muslims are causing trouble (a minority though, most muslims go as quietly as christians here) and because of political-correctness, they are immune from anything.

Here is an example : a man did pee on a Coran : got thrown to jail. A guy puts a catholic bible in a jar of urine : it’s called art.

Our government is a government of morons without balls. They will put to their knees and suck whatever comes in front of their mouth to stay in power.

No balls, no honor. The same assholes we did have in the 1930’s and everyone knows how it ended against the war-mongering Germany at that time.

France will be, with Belgium, one of the first countries to fall and become like Lebanon.

Trump is right when he says France is no longer France.

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...
Loading...