Clinton Campaign Happily Using Strong End-To-End Encryption To Communicate; Will They Let The Rest Of Us Use It Too?

from the good-for-the-goose dept

Hillary Clinton has been somewhat hard to pin down on the encryption debate — because she’s done what she’s done with plenty of issues, generally spoken in broad platitudes without ever making a statement that allows her position to actually be clear. But she’s certainly said some pretty concerning stuff. Last fall she said:

Encryption of mobile communications presents a particularly tough problem. We should take the concerns of law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals seriously. They have warned that impenetrable encryption may prevent them from accessing terrorist communications and preventing a future attack.

Of course, she then did a “on the other hand” and noted the concerns of security folks. Since then, she’s called for a sort of Manhattan Project on encryption, believing that if Silicon Valley people could just nerd harder, they could make encryption that could only be broken by law enforcement. That’s not how it works. She’s also complained that Silicon Valley treats the government “as its adversary.”

So it seems rather noteworthy that, following questions about how well she secured her own emails, combined with email leaks from the DNC and reports that the campaign itself has been hacked, the Clinton campaign has now started using Signal, the popular encrypted messaging system from Open Whisper Systems (which made the protocol that is generally considered the best around for end-to-end encrypted messaging).

In the intervening weeks, staffers were told, according to a person who works with the committee, that if anyone was going to communicate about Donald Trump over e-mail or text message, especially if those missives were even remotely contentious or disparaging, it was imperative that they do so using an application called Signal….

Signal, staffers in the meeting were told, was ?Snowden-approved.? A week after the meeting at the campaign headquarters, according to two people who have worked with the D.N.C. and the Clinton campaign, an e-mail was sent out instructing staffers where to download the app and how to use it.

So, you’d think that, maybe (just maybe) the Clinton campaign might come out and say that it’s not planning to support bills that would outlaw Signal after they’re elected, right?

Perhaps it’ll take another lesson. Because, apparently, the Clinton campaign staffers didn’t pay much attention to the briefing:

While the D.N.C. hack sent tremors down the spines of virtually everyone in Washington, it didn?t take long for people to take the easy route, once again e-mailing sensitive information that could easily hamper the campaign if it ever became public. Or, as one Washington insider told me: ?No one really learned.?

So, there’s that.

The other oddity in this story is that Hillary Clinton has called for Snowden to be put in jail, and yet now her campaign is telling everyone to use Snowden-approved encryption? The irony did not go unnoticed by one person in particular:

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Comments on “Clinton Campaign Happily Using Strong End-To-End Encryption To Communicate; Will They Let The Rest Of Us Use It Too?”

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45 Comments
Michael (profile) says:

if anyone was going to communicate about Donald Trump over e-mail or text message, especially if those missives were even remotely contentious or disparaging, it was imperative that they do so using

Translation:

If you are going to do something you shouldn’t, it is really important you hide it well so you do not get caught.

That seems redundant. If there is one lesson we have already been taught by Hillary Clinton, it’s this.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The other oddity in this story is that Hillary Clinton has called for Snowden to be put in jail, and yet now her campaign is telling everyone to use Snowden-approved encryption? “

So you don’t want positions to evolve? No matter the motive, the move to strong encryption is the pro-encryption nose under the tent, now shuffle that nose further inside and soon the whole camel will be there. I’m getting the impression some people will complain even if they win.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“So you don’t want positions to evolve? “

Is that what the politicians are calling it now? 6 months ago she was calling for his head. Now she wants his approval on her encryption? Well, I guess it is logical. Snowden didn’t get caught, and she keeps getting caught. Maybe she’s trying to evolve into a better crook?

It’s actually quite funny:

She wants Snowden in jail, for basically doing the same thing she did.

https://www.wired.com/2015/09/snowden-people-get-fired-prosecuted-hillary-clinton/

Then she wants to break encryption:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/12/hillary-clinton-wants-manhattan-like-project-to-break-encryption/

Then she starts using the gold standard in encryption.

She’s as crooked as the rest of them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Agree, voting for any candidate from a party is eventual suicide. It is very tempting for me to vote for Johnson, but his stance on immigration is wrong and destructive for America. The issue is so important that it is eclipsing most of the other ones.

If we have no border, we will soon have no nation. The current problems in the EU are proof of where this ridiculous immigration polices will get us!

I will not be voting for trump either. I have no reason to believe a fucking thing that leaves that assholes mouth.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The trick is convincing enough people to vote for the SAME third party.

Even Roosevelt and Perot weren’t able to get near what it takes to be anything but a spoiler.

I dislike both candidates, but I fear Trump more, hence I’m voting for Clinton to vote against Trump. But convince me that Johnson can get enough votes to be a vote against both of them, and I’ll play along.

Of course that involves convincing a plurality of the rest of the US. You’ve got yourself a challenge.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: "My privacy and security is important, yours not so much."

I’ve got no problem with a politician being willing to change their mind once they realize how flawed their previous position is, so long as they admit it and act accordingly. If she’s for encryption for herself and her party then it’s massively hypocritical at best if she also continues to hold an anti-encryption position when it comes to everyone else.

If she’s ‘seen the light’ as far as the value of encryption and is now of the position that her previous anti-encryption stance was not only wrong but dangerous then awesome, one less stupid idea held by a politician and she should make her change of heart public so that it’s clear that she recognizes that she was wrong before and won’t continue to make absurd ‘Nerd harder!’ claims and continue to insist that encryption can absolutely be broken ‘safely’.

On the other hand if she’s only pro-encryption when it comes to encryption she’s using then it’s not a change of position at all, she’s still anti-encryption in general she just realizes the value of it when it comes to her stuff, while continuing to believe that the public at large shouldn’t be able to have the same level of privacy and security.

beltorak (profile) says:

Re: Re: "My privacy and security is important, yours not so much."

On the other hand if she’s only pro-encryption when it comes to encryption she’s using then it’s not a change of position at all, she’s still anti-encryption in general she just realizes the value of it when it comes to her stuff, while continuing to believe that the public at large shouldn’t be able to have the same level of privacy and security.

Oh she understands the value of encryption no matter whose information it protects, make no mistake about that. There’s a subtler motive at work here: she doesn’t think you deserve to avail yourself of that value. It’s that pervasive attitude permeating throughout the DNC that leads me to see them all, and Hillary more than most, as psychopathic snakes. It is that snide, barely obscured mentality underpinning the actions they take that is corroding the foundational philosophies of our republic. How dare you think you should have the same rights and protections as your betters. How dare you think your betters should have to follow the same laws as you.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Maybe Mrs. Clinton's opinions are evolving.

When Obama’s opinions evolved about gays in the military and gay marriage, we regarded it as progress.

Clinton using (and supporting use of) secure crypto and recognizing Snowden.

Maybe we should save criticizing her on this one until she actually says what’s good for her is too good for the rest of us peons, and delays in pardoning Snowden.

Eponymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Maybe Mrs. Clinton's opinions are evolving.

No, sir, we should hit her repeatedly on this one. This isn’t a policy choice, which would be trumpeted publicly in press conferences. This is a serial liar, a professional in obfuscation, realizing that the person she would have hanged has domain expertise and recognizing that his expertise should be respected. Saying a junkyard dog is good at guarding the junkyard is a far cry from saying that you want to let him sleep at the foot of your child’s bed.

If you expect HRC to say that the rank and file should get to play by the same rules that she does, you will be repeatedly and viciously disappointed.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: "rank and file should get to play by the same rules that she does"

I agree she doesn’t believe that, but I’d like to see her admit that’s the case more, even if accidentally.

Or maybe even force her to understand why equal law for all was a good idea in the first place.

When Robespierre was executed in the Place de la Révolution, he was turned face up so that he could watch the blade come down.

I think nothing short of such an experience would sway Clinton to recognize equal law.

But I think not even that would convince Trump that anyone was his equal, or should be treated with equal regard to him.

I hate this election.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So long as they aren’t alleging that her husband was the abuser.

To be a little more explicit in case some hadn’t heard, she had something on her web site saying all victims of sexual abuse deserve to be believed. Then Juanita Broaddrick reiterated her accusations of rape against Bill Clinton, and that statement was suddenly (and silently) removed from her web site.

Anonymous Coward says:

The government has a warped definition of encryption. It’s only a good thing if only the government uses encryption. It’s not so good when ordinary citizens can use it.

I seem to recall the U.S. Government banning any consumer-based computer if it ran faster than a government computer. This happened back in the 80’s and early 90’s. Fortunately for consumers, this was repealed to allow computer manufacturers to produce fast processing computers for consumer use.

Anonymous Coward says:

No, of course she doesn’t want his approval. Not like you can’t hate someone and recognize their accomplishments at the same time. Also Edward Snowden’s name has become a trademark of sorts and “Snowden-approved” could simply mean really secure.

As for what they’d do after? Force app vendors to serve the gov. one encrypted channel while spying on their customers on another “encrypted” channel.

Even assuming Silicon Valley could “nerd hard enough” to create an encryption only breakable by “The Law” (w/e the hell that means), who’s to say a corrupt officer (of “The Law”) can’t obtain access and later leak/misuse the data.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…and being ridiculed in a public forum for telling the truth and explaining it nicely.

Maybe if the government stopped trying to “make an example” of Silicon Valley companies and individuals for doing their jobs and trying to help on top of that, there’d be no adversarial relationship.

Kinda like if the bully at school keeps punching you in the shoulder (hard) every day before school — and then complains that you appear to be in an adversarial relationship with them when you refuse to help them with their homework.

Whatever (profile) says:

“Hillary Clinton has been somewhat hard to pin down on the encryption debate — because she’s done what she’s done with plenty of issues, generally spoken in broad platitudes without ever making a statement that allows her position to actually be clear. “

She could be a writer for Techdirt, you guys are pretty good at keeping things muddy as hell!

Seriously don’t worry about Hillary’s position. It’s pretty typical political stuff: The great good would be to make it so criminals can’t hide their action so we need to break encryption, but since I don’t want anyone to know what we are talking about we will use encryption for now.

It’s about the here and now versus the theoretical future. Good politicians keep a foot in each.

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