FBI Director James Comey Continues To Be The 'Fringe Candidate' Of The Encryption Debate

from the 'I'm-not-an-expert-but-I'm-unshakable-in-my-belief-that-I'm-righ dept

Ahead of a keynote address at Kenyon College, FBI director James Comey made himself available for an interview with Eric Geller of the Daily Dot, in which he assured readers that he is still making use of some very dusty talking points.

For the dozenth time, Comey once again asserted his belief that unicorns are not only real, but that smart people at tech companies can provide him with one.

“I think it’s a bit of a false premise to say that the only answer to the challenge we face is to introduce vulnerabilities into code,” Comey told the Daily Dot, before adding, “I’ll leave that to experts.”
This is Comey's backdoor: a backdoor for all intents and purposes, except that he refuses to call it a backdoor. It's a secret entrance, only known to law enforcement, intelligence agencies and any other government entity that might like access to encrypted devices. It's a bell that can't be unrung, but Comey thinks the FBI can ring it quietly enough, provided the smart tech people come up with a foolproof way to suppress the ringing noise.

Experts -- hundreds of them -- have already offered their opinion. What Comey wants is impossible without introducing abusable vulnerabilities. And while the FBI was seeking access to the infamous San Bernardino iPhone, dozens of experts offered their help, but the FBI wasn't interested. And yet, Comey soldiers on, secure in his delusion that the "experts" will fix his problem, on his terms, even after he and his agency have done all they can to alienate them. No one has made more out of their own ignorance than Comey, who seems to be willfully avoiding any actual discussions with experts -- experts who will very definitely disabuse him of his stupid, dangerous notions.

But that's not the dumbest statement made by Comey in this interview. He tops himself later while addressing the possible repercussions of forcing tech companies to glue horns on horses to sastify his unicorn requests.
Asked about the danger of pushing people to foreign platforms by limiting U.S. encryption, Comey seemed to suggest that the answer was to regulate encryption worldwide. “Every country that cares about the rule of law cares about this,” he said. “I think whatever we come up with—we as a people that care about these issues, in and out of government—it has to have some international component to it.”
Let me get this straight: the guy who couldn't even persuade Congress that it was a good idea to force one company to help unlock one phone believes he can talk the rest of the world into getting on board with his anti-encryption plans. If insanity is doing saying the same thing over and over and expecting different results responses, then his planned "we are the backdoored world" singalong is basically Comey assuring the general public that he is mentally unfit -- without having to urinate on himself or submit 244 pages of truther theories as Exhibit A to an unamused judge.

The audacity of that shrug ("no prob, we'll just get the rest of the world to bend to my will") is breathtaking. The best thing the FBI could do to protect its iPhone-cracking interests is chain Comey to a desk in a basement and go back to delivering a steady stream of "no comments" through DOJ lawyers.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 8:02am

    Not entirely wrong

    He's not completely mistaken, I'm sure a great many governments and groups around the world absolutely love the idea of having access to any and all data created, sent and stored by the citizens in their country, though I imagine the list of those that want such thing would not be one he'd be all that eager to present to support his position, given what types would top the list.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 8:35am

    He has about as much chance as I have of getting my ex to make me a sandwich...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 8:36am

    I'll leave it to the experts, but only the experts who are willing to sell us a solution for several billion dollars.
    So what if everyone else says it is impossible, we know the impossible is easy, there is a whole movie franchise based on it being possible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:26am

      Re:

      Yeah, he says he'll leave it to the experts, and then refuses to do so. What a lying, hypocritical ass.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:31am

        Re: Re:

        He's just using a different definition of the word is all, to him 'experts' means 'People who agree with me'.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          He's just using a different definition of the word is all, to him 'experts' means 'People who agree with me'.

          Then let's see his "experts" do it if they're so "expert".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Funny thing about that, the same people who claim that it absolutely can be done, that a back-door/golden key/unicorn gate can be created that only allows 'The Good Guys' access can be created if the tech companies 'just try harder' also tend to be near or completely lacking in tech related skills or knowledge, so they wouldn't be able to.

            Pure coincidence I'm sure how the two groups overlap like that, with those who don't know anything about the tech in question also tending to be the same people who claim that it can be done, but like I said I'm sure that's purely coincidental.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 10:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The last time that those experts tried, we got the Clipper chip, which was subverted in short order.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 11:31am

      Nothing is impossible...

      for the man that doesn't have to do it himself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 18 Apr 2016 @ 8:42am

    I’ll leave that to experts.

    Which experts? Because all the actual experts have spoken and said it can't be done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 8:51am

    It's like he thinks of people who work on new technologies as scatterbrain idiots who shit out miracles under pressure.

    I think maybe he's watched too much star trek and can't tell the difference between fiction and reality. He thinks himself Kirk standing on the bridge asking Scotty how long it'll take to get the engines back online, and Scotty tells him it'll take at least 8 hours, to which he replies "We need those engines back online in 3 hours or we're all dead!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WeTheSheeple, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:00am

    244 pages of truther theories. (Dont you mean Truther?) Leave it to Timmah to be an asshole. I bet he is one of those assholes with 20 YouTube accounts that goes around on all the 911 videos just calling Truthers names.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sheeple-Veiw, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:01am

    Local man says what he beleives security is

    Is wrong like the Onion before they became clairvoyant

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:09am

    " a false premise to say that the only answer to the challenge we face is to introduce vulnerabilities into code"

    Quite right. He wants the backdoors in all commodity hardware, which most people will be completely unable to avoid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:11am

    It's SOPA all over again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:15am

    According to james Comey, anybody who reveals government malfeasance and overreach should be prosecuted for every charge they can come up with, as governments are entitled to keep their crimes secret. At the same time, any citizens data that they wish to look at, whether or not they live in the US, should be available to law enforcement and the security services. In other words, the government can do no wrong, and its doing should be kept secret; while everybody else is a potential criminal or terrorist and should have no privacy at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:32am

    Finding an electron in the Universe

    The FBI can not determine the validity and utility of data coming out of its own laboratory. What is it going to do with access to all the data in the world?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:52am

      Re: Finding an electron in the Universe

      Take control over every government in the world. There it does not matter whether the salacious data about politicians is true, but rather will the public believe it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kallethen, 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:51am

    So tired of the "Leave it to the experts" catch phrase

    Ugh. I'm so tired of this. It's like the only way government officials know how to talk about whatever thing they want to believe something that is impossible/improbable.

    Encryption backdoors: It doesn't make sense they are impossible, but I'll leave it to the experts.

    Global warming: I don't believe humans are causing global warming, but I'll leave that to the experts.

    Seriously... it's the grown-up equivalent of sticking fingers in your ears and yelling "La la la la la la! I'm not listening!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 9:56am

      Re: So tired of the "Leave it to the experts" catch phrase

      "I don't understand X, so I'll ask the experts on the subject to explain it to me" is actually the reasonable course of action when you don't know enough to make an informed choice or statement on something. Where it goes wrong is when they say 'I'll ask/leave it to the experts', as in this case, and then completely ignore what the experts say if it conflicts with their position.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Groaker (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 10:27am

      Re: So tired of the "Leave it to the experts" catch phrase

      I wish that Comey would leave it to the experts -- they have already told that his plan would be a disaster.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 10:00am

    I'd like to know...

    the names of any "experts" that have told him it's possible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 10:08am

    He views himself and his agency as above the law and expects everyone to lick his boots. Coming from that mindset it is not hard to see why he acts the way he does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 10:37am

    > It's a bell that can't be unrung

    Someone's been watching The Magicians.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 10:54am

    Comey thinks he is above the law (he is an FBI guy), therefore, shitty encryption won't bite his ass. The problem is that he is wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 11:05am

    Can we petition the White house to have Comey removed from his position? No. Seriously. can we? He has demonstrated that he is incompetent to run his job time and time again. He is a danger to himself and to national security, not only the US's but EVERYONE'S.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    letherial (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 11:26am

    Even if by some miracle he was able to convince the world to backdoor encryption, how is he going to convince programmers? Encryption doesn't need a nation state, nor a big corporation, nor a big donor. If you can write code, you can make a encryption program

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 1:59pm

    'Rule of Law' Goes Both Ways

    It means that there are certain lines the government does not cross. Subverting strong encryption is one of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whatever, 18 Apr 2016 @ 5:41pm

    Comey 2020! Comey 2020!

    Not that filthy Wyden! I hate Wyden because Masnick supports him, obviously. I'd rather suck the dick of a chainsaw than be on the same planet as Wyden. Comey will save us from all the terrorists!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 6:00pm

      Re: Comey 2020! Comey 2020!

      You'll vote Comey and you'll LIKE it!
      (because he'll have the backdoor keys to the voting machines)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    plonked plonker, 19 Apr 2016 @ 5:29am

    encription for programers 101 :: not so hard actually

    Programmers will protect themselves from this overreach. Encription is not that hard. Imagine if everyone used their own creative encription, then the government would have to crack every program everytime, not just a one time crack then have it all. This would cost vast amount of money, and undermine the entire neocon agenda. Sure it might not be very hard to crack but imagine not very hard to crack every time you want access, not once but millions of times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 19 Apr 2016 @ 6:16am

      Re: encription for programers 101 :: not so hard actually

      "Encription is not that hard. Imagine if everyone used their own creative encription"

      Coming up with a new, effective encryption scheme is very hard.

      People who want to break encryption would be thrilled if everyone invented their own unique algorithms, because 99.99% of them will be breakable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WeTheSheeple, 19 Apr 2016 @ 9:53am

    Yeah Timmah... those damn truthers. We already know everything there is to know about 911 and the US gubbmint wouldn't lie or hide things from us ever... oh.... except when they do:
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/obama-top-intel-official-reviewing-secret-9-11-material/ar-BBrWh Hb?li=BBnbfcL

    http://nypost.com/2016/04/17/how-us-covered-up-saudi-role-in-911/

    Truthers already knew the Saudis had a big hand in 911. Why no troops in Saudi?
    Sibel Edmonds knew and tried to tell people. Then she was gagged.
    -
    But it's ok Timmah... you go on believing that radical cavemen hijacked 3 planes and thwarted the best air defense the world's money can buy.
    -
    Even the Official Pentagon Building Performance report noted an explosion absent of any plane that pushed the second floor upward. But I guess Timmah never read that one. Or anything else that wasn't Gubbmint approved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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