How Attorney General Barr's War On Encryption Will Harm Our Military

from the stop-it-guys dept

We’ve highlighted in the past that there are large parts of the federal government that recognize that strong encryption is actually very, very important for national security, and that the framing by Attorney General William Barr, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and even President Trump — that there need to be back doors to encryption for “security” reasons — is utter nonsense. The intelligence community has long recognized the importance of strong encryption. Even many people within the FBI think their bosses’ position on this issue is bonkers. Late last year, we were pleasantly surprised to see the Defense Department step up as well, with a letter to Congress talking about just how important encryption is for national security.

Over at Cyberscoop, former National Security Council cybersecurity expert Ari Schwartz has a nice article explaining just how important encryption is to protecting the military. It won’t tread any new ground for anyone who understands the basics here, but it’s nice to see more and more people highlighting this.

Last month, a brigade of U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East received instructions from their superiors to use two commercial encrypted messaging applications, Signal and Wickr, on their government issued cell phones. These leadership cues trickled down from the Department of Defense?s (DoD) position that strong encryption is critical to national security. While U.S. Attorney General William Barr continues to push for a broad mandate for backdoors for law enforcement, those on the front lines of protecting America have notably decided on a different approach. Simply put, weakening encryption means putting our military service members at risk.

The key point — and one that many of us have made for years is that the framing by Wray/Barr (and, for what it’s worth, James Comey before them) is that there’s some sort of conflict here between “security” and “privacy.” But that’s always been bullshit. The issue has always been between having both security and privacy vs. giving law enforcement easier access to data and information they can almost always get elsewhere with a little more effort. In short, it’s a debate between having security and privacy widely available against a bit of convenience for law enforcement. As such, this should be no debate at all.

Let?s stop wasting time suggesting that we need universal solutions that may solve law enforcement?s short-term needs, but then put consumers and our military at risk.

Somehow, I don’t think the time wasting is going to go away any time soon, unfortunately.

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Comments on “How Attorney General Barr's War On Encryption Will Harm Our Military”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Aaron Walkhouse (profile) says:

The only argument that shuts these guys up is this:

Weaken encryption in the U.S. and all exports of software
and network-related technology "made in U.S.A."will dry up.
Everybody, Americans included, will shop elsewhere for tech.

That’s trillions of dollars in new trade deficits, hundreds
of billions in lost profits to tech industries and tens of
billions in lost taxes every year until a new administration
undoes the damage and stops the bleeding.

Arguing about security and rights of the American people has
no effect on these clowns because they hold the public in
contempt, and always will. ‌ Show them what effect their dumb-
ass meddling will do to their billionaire friends and corporate
backers and they’ll quietly let the issue die off without ever
having to admit why it was a stupid idea to start with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The only argument that shuts these guys up is this:

You miss the point that the US government has no need for free enterprise. They are only interested in their security. The need for them to uncover every stone to find threats, real or imagined is Top Priority. They have a complete shadow ststem of government underground and the last thing they need before they enter into their bunker complex and shut the Titanium Steel Doirs is all encryption access. That end is coming.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Norahc (profile) says:

Re: In 5... 4... 3...

If encryption is such a bad thing, then why don’t those calling for backdoors for lae enforcment stop using all encryption? If Trump, Barr, Comey, Vance, et al feel so strongly about this, then they should lead the way for us by showing us strong encryption is not needed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They don’t give a shit about our service members.
The military housing situation is deplorable, but lets use those already allocated funds to build a wall that falls over in a slight breeze and is easy to cut holes in. The narcissistic nutterz will probably blame the minimum wage workers for screwing the dumb thing up.
I do not think that our military members appreciate being used as mercenaries, sent out to do the bidding of the clueless.

The Few.... says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, maybe, ask yourself why you chose such a fucked role in a fucked society then?

re: I do not think that our military members appreciate being used as mercenaries

I wasn’t too pleased being a peace activist either, but it was your types who shit all over my rights, via the HIVE mind, and gang stalking, you and them, all bored, over-clocked by video games of war, and running off to real (fake) war cuz your trailer trash/ghetto dweller mom or pop shit you out with ZERO PLAN for the future you would inhabit.

How about trying peace for awhile?

Anonymous Coward says:

it seems to me that the problem of who gets harmed and perhaps even looses their life because of this issue isn’t anywhere near as important to Barr as it is to get his own way, to get what HE wants! if, perhaps, he was one of those put in harms way because of backdoors etc in encryption, giving access to ‘only the police and security services’ (yeah, right), maybe he wouldn’t be such a jumped up prick, who understands virtually nothing about it and then leave well alone!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

… maybe he wouldn’t be such a jumped up prick, who understands virtually nothing about it and then leave well alone!

While ‘it wont’ affect me, so why would I care?’ is likely a good chunk of the self-justification for his actions(and those who are also pushing for crippled encryption), it is almost certainly a serious mistake to assume that he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.

At this point, and given his position, the only ignorance that’s even remotely believable would be willful ignorance, where to the extent that he ‘doesn’t know’ it’s because he doesn’t want to know. More likely though he knows full well what he’s demanding and it’s likely repercussions and just doesn’t care, because like you noted it’s not going to affect him.

Anonymous Coward says:

The plot of that one movie

They will change there mind when a massive cyberattack that the US has never seen before happens on all levels of government and then when they go yelling at google asking them why it happen they go up to senator in questions phone.

And calmly replicate how it happened and call him an idiot who should never have any any position where he has to use technology

I’m just kidding if he did that they would arrest him you all saw the
villains reasons in that one die hard movie lol

Anonymous Coward says:

Times were that our Military and Foreign Policy stance on enemies of the US and its Allies commanded swift response to carried out attacks. It has always been for Law Enforcement a response to an illegal act. We live in a different world now where both Political powers and Military wish to pre-emptively strike against actual and perceived threats before any harm may come to anyone of those interests. That mentality is now pervasive in Law Enforcement. Pre Crime is here to stay. Enabling All of these entities to jump over critical security built into systems is going to become the norm.

Anonymous Coward says:

Um…but you kind of DO support time wasting, as a Fabian type socialist, because not acknowledging Organized Gang Stalking allows even your enemies/foes/non-Fabians a lot of leverage over key players, and key dialogues in the dialectic.

See batshit crazy FBI informant and targeted individual (by her own admission) Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel for a living example.

She couldn’t become an FBI informant fast enough after she was hit with the labeling theory based term "targeted individual."

I mean, at what point do you cock-blockers form a real flag brigade, anyways?

Targeted audiences, targeted influencers, targeted individuals, etc…..

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