NY DA Cy Vance Asks Law Enforcement About Problems With Encryption; Won't Take 'No Problems' For An Answer
from the click-'submit'-to-confirm-bias dept
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance must be exhausted. Vance has been the New York face of the anti-encryption push -- a state-level James Comey with the NYPD as his backing band. He's held histrionic press conferences and issued editorials via The Paper of Record. He's also leveraging the web to muster his anti-encryption forces. As Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai reports for Motherboard, he's asking law enforcement officers to show him on the webform where the encrypted phone abused the investigation.
[T]he Manhattan District Attorney’s office quietly put out a questionnaire last fall using the online platform Survey Monkey. The survey was made with the goal of compiling “statistics on the national scope of the problem,” according to a district attorney’s spokesperson, who explained that it was created for the International Association of Chief of Police conference in Chicago.The survey contains a variety of questions that would receive interjections of "objection: leading" from opposing counsel. The SurveyMonkey form (which you can fill out for fun and noise here) assumes every responding law enforcement official/officer will have been stymied by an encrypted phone at some point. Answering "no" to a question like "Have you encountered a smartphone, or other device, that you have been unable to get into because of encryption?" doesn't end that particular line of questioning. Instead, the respondent is forced to answer an unskippable follow-up question, as pointed out by Franceschi-Bicchierai.
The survey didn’t get much attention, but it was spotted and tweeted out by Declan McCullagh, a former CNET reporter who now works on a news app called Recent News.
The spokesperson for Cy Vance's office declined to state whether the results of the survey would be made public or how the office "independently verifies" the law enforcement status of respondents. But Joan Vollero did object to Motherboard portraying the survey's release as "quiet," stating that it "posted publicly" on the office's website. It was apparently released in conjunction with Cy Vance's "white paper" on encryption, the one where he stated he wasn't calling for a ban on encryption before calling on lawmakers to prevent the sale and use of encrypted phones, possibly with some sort of a ban. However, this white paper + survey was not accompanied by a press release, so its release was stealthier than most.
Because respondents aren't given the option to talk about their lack of problems with encrypted phones, Vance will be able to compile plenty of data that agrees with his conclusions. The data may never be made public in raw form, but it will certainly be used at some point to support his arguments during future press conferences and Congressional testimony.