FBI Director Chris Wray Needs To Shut The Fuck Up About Encryption
from the SHOW-YOUR-WORK dept
FBI Director Chris Wray is still hoping to sell Americans on trading away their security for a little bit of law enforcement convenience. Wray believes the only way the FBI and other agencies will ever keep up with criminals is to do away with encryption. The “going dark” campaign may have started with Jim Comey, but Wray has proven to be every bit as obtusely tenacious as his predecessor.
Wray’s latest anti-encryption pep talk occurred at the RSA Conference. CNET reports the FBI director delivered another misguided, but impassioned, speech in defense of making everything worse for everyone but the FBI.
Encryption should have limits. That’s the message FBI Director Christopher Wray had for cybersecurity experts Tuesday. The technology that scrambles up information so only intended recipients can read it is useful, he said, but it shouldn’t provide a playground for criminals where law enforcement can’t reach them.
“It can’t be a sustainable end state for there to be an entirely unfettered space that’s utterly beyond law enforcement for criminals to hide,” Wray said during a live interview at the RSA Conference, a major cybersecurity gathering in San Francisco.
Wray can’t honestly define where encryption should stop and law enforcement access begin. All he can do is claim the status quo isn’t working because sometimes the FBI can’t get into a seized device. But how many times is encryption actually bringing an investigation to a halt? That’s something Wray won’t talk about, even though he has access to this information.
What CNET charitably calls a “back and forth” conversation between Chris Wray and tech companies is actually nothing more than Wray complaining about encryption and ignoring everything he hears back from the companies that would be affected.
Wray needs to take his anti-encryption ball and go home. Not because I disagree with him, but because the FBI has handled this “conversation” disingenuously since day one. The “going dark” narrative hasn’t been backed by evidence or facts. The FBI misrepresented the number of uncrackable devices it had in its possession for more than three years. Once legislators started demanding proof, the FBI discovered it had no idea how many devices it had on hand.
No further details have been delivered by the FBI, but it’s safe to assume the original estimate of 8-9,000 devices is actually less than a quarter of that. But we don’t know what the actual count is because the FBI has yet to issue an updated number.
The FBI said it would recount the devices and get back to us. As of March 6th, it has been 281 days since the FBI started replacing statements of 8,000+ locked devices with asterisks and footnotes. This is why Wray needs to shut his mouth. Until his agency delivers the real number of locked devices, we don’t need to entertain his anti-encryption dreams. If he and his agency are unwilling to have a real conversation about device encryption — one containing actual facts about locked devices and their impact on investigations — no one should grant him or his comments any credibility.