Police Chief Demands Holes In Encryption Because Some Cops Decided To Participate In The DC Insurrection
from the sure,-make-this-all-about-us-when-it's-really-just-about-you dept
As more evidence comes to light showing a disturbing amount of law enforcement participation in the January 6th attack on the Capitol, police departments around the nation are finally being forced to face something they’ve ignored for far too long.
The law enforcement officers who participated in the insurrection attacked officers attempting to defend the building, or, at the very least, did nothing to discourage the lawless actions occurring all around them. The officers that went to DC and engaged in a riot aren’t an anomaly. They’ve been part of law enforcement for as long as law enforcement has existed: bigots with a penchant for violence and a thirst for power.
These officers are finally beginning to be rooted out, but only because they did things no one can ignore. Hundreds of participants produced hundreds of recordings, turning their own celebration of their attempted election-thwarting into the evidence needed to identify them and charge them with federal crimes. Posts made to social media platforms provided more evidence, tying incriminating statements to location data to place off-duty cops on the scene.
Now that agencies are finally confronting their in-house white supremacist/militia problem, they’re asking for everyone to be made less secure so they can handle the problem that’s been hiding in plain sight for years.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo — who presides over an agency with more than its share of bad cops — was asked what officials like himself are doing to confront this problem. In response, Chief Acevedo asked for Congress to do him — and other law enforcement agencies — a favor:
Acevedo… said anonymous online platforms on the “dark web” are making such [internal] investigations impossible, even for departments with sufficient resources. He expects the move away from public platforms like Facebook and Twitter to grow rapidly in response to the FBI arrests of those who rioted at the Capitol.
This month, Acevedo was asked by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to explain what actions police chiefs are taking, and responded by asking for help. For years, law enforcement officials have asked for passage of a federal law that would require such platforms to have a “back door” that law enforcement can access if they have “a legitimate investigative need and a court order” to gain entry.
Then he blamed social media platforms for his own inability to police his police, calling them out as the real lawbreakers here:
“Congress’s failure to act has enabled industry giants to flaunt the law and operate with impunity,” Acevedo wrote in response.
First off, if the bad cops are shifting to “dark web” platforms in response to their own opsec failures during the January 6th riot, mandating backdoors that affect “industry giants” isn’t going to make it any easier to track down cops who’ve moved on to “darker” web services.
Second, law enforcement agencies’ continuous failure to hold officers accountable or to perform rigorous background checks should not be used as leverage to make services and devices less secure for millions of Americans. Citizens have already had to watch their tax dollars pay the salaries of brutal thugs whose loyalty to each other often supersedes their sworn duties as public servants. They don’t need to be punished further just so it’s a little easier for cops to perform the occasional internal investigation.
Finally, the encryption offered by device makers and communications platforms also protects cops — not just from accountability, as Acevedo implies here — but from malicious hackers and criminals who would love access to cops’ devices, communications, and sensitive files. A backdoor for bad cops is a backdoor for good cops — and a backdoor that strips a layer of security away from everyone who uses these devices and services.
The ugliness that permeates law enforcement needs to be rooted out. But the security of millions of Americans shouldn’t be weakened just because those policing the police haven’t done much of this policing for decades. They’ve had open access to evidence for years and rarely used it. Now that their sins are too big to ignore until the next news cycle hits shouldn’t be the impetus for backdoor mandates.