New Attorney General Loves Him Some Encryption Backdoors, Which Should Pair Up Nicely With FBI Director's Plans For The Future
from the you-make-it,-you-break-it dept
It looks as though this administration may be the Decrypto Party. Trump's pick for Attorney General has already made it clear he thinks asset forfeiture is a damn good thing for the American public, even if it often deprives the public of their property without evidence of criminal wrongdoing or providing a valid avenue of recourse.
Now, he's (once again) confirmed encryption shouldn't keep law enforcement from accessing devices. The EFF reports that Sessions strongly hinted he's in favor of encryption backdoors during his confirmation hearing.
Question: Do you agree with NSA Director Rogers, Secretary of Defense Carter, and other national security experts that strong encryption helps protect this country from cyberattack and is beneficial to the American people's’ digital security?
Response: Encryption serves many valuable and important purposes. It is also critical, however, that national security and criminal investigators be able to overcome encryption, under lawful authority, when necessary to the furtherance of national-security and criminal investigations.
This dim view of the public's use of encryption is nothing new for Jeff Sessions. While still a senator, Sessions made it clear he feels law enforcement's "needs" should come before the general security of phone users. During the battle over access to the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, Sessions offered his support of an anti-encryption bill.
Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama questioned Cook’s position. "Coming from a law enforcement background, I believe this is a more serious issue than Tim Cook understands," Sessions said. He said accessing phones is critical to law enforcement.
"In a criminal case, or could be a life and death terrorist case, accessing a phone means the case is over. Time and time again, that kind of information results in an immediate guilty plea, case over," Sessions said. He added that the ability for government to access a phone should not be abused.
Well, yeah… "should not be abused." That should go without saying. But would it be abused? Probably. Law enforcement used to search phones all the time without warrants until the Supreme Court put a stop to that. FBI plug-and-play kiosks allow LEOs to perform forensic searches at their convenience. Presumably the proper paperwork is in play, but it's not as though the FBI's going to frisk cops on the way to the FORENS-O-MATIC.
Add a backdoor and no phone is secure -- not from the government and not from anyone who steals the device.
Sessions and backdooring encryption go back even further than last year's iPhone battle. When Dianne Feinstein decided consumer devices had too much security, Sessions was there to pitch leading softballs and confirm her radicalization-via-Playstation Network fears.
I suspect what happened in the aftermath of Snowden, particularly Europe got very conservative with respect to encryption. And companies back away. Now, that's changing with Paris and God forbid what might happen in the future. I think the world is really changing in terms of people wanting the protection and wanting law enforcement, if there is conspiracy going on over the internet, that encryption ought to be able to be pierced.
Well, Sessions was wrong about what the world wanted. Governments still remain reluctant to mandate encryption backdoors -- despite law enforcement's continual pleas and ongoing attacks in European nations. But being wrong never stopped anyone from exploiting tragedies to push agendas -- even when Sessions' view of the public mindset contradicts the public's actual mindset
Adding to the mix is the federal government's own Donnie Darko, FBI Director James Comey. Comey has yet to switch up talking points on encryption and continues to point to an impending criminal apocalypse that can only be thwarted by
a.) smart people making impossible things happen
b.) smart people being told what's what by legislation mandating decryption/backdoors.
Comey now has a very sympathetic AG watching over his agency and his office. Very little good can come of that.