from the just-do-you-jobs-guys dept
It has been more than 1,800 days since the FBI said it would correct its incorrect total of (allegedly) uncrackable encrypted devices in its possession. Back in the glory days of its “going dark” narrative, the FBI claimed it had more than 7,800 impenetrable devices in its possession. Some congressional scrutiny, much of it spearheaded by Senator Ron Wyden, forced the FBI to actually take a look at its presumed totals. That additional scrutiny forced the FBI to admit its tracking software had vastly over-represented its supposed encryption problem.
The promised corrections have yet to arrive. Instead, we’re left with nothing but the footnotes added to every public statement/document the FBI misrepresented the encryption “problem.”
This nearly-six-year failure to correct the device count hasn’t prevented the FBI from continuing to claim (without even its own facts in evidence) encryption is doing nothing but making criminals better, faster, and stronger.
If the FBI wants to put device/communication encryption on the legislative chopping block, it should at least have the intellectual honesty to behave like an adult in the room, rather than like a child telling everyone they’ve lost at “guess a number between one and ten” by changing the number every time someone makes a successful guest.
The FBI owes us answers. Apparently, no one can compel it to give those answers to us. Instead, the FBI is granted yearly budget increases and broad leeway to radicalize people solely for the purpose of arresting them. We, the people, get fucked. And we’re expected to pay for the privilege.
It appears the FBI doesn’t believe we’ve been dicked around quite enough yet. As Patrick Eddington reports for Reason, the FBI wants us to pay to confirm its bias against encryption — something that protects us against malicious criminals as well as malicious federal agents.
On April 24, the FBI’s war against public key encryption technology—the kind many of us use for texting, emailing, and online banking—entered a new phase. The FBI published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on its proposal to “collect data on the volume of law enforcement investigations that are negatively impacted by device and software encryption.”
Tellingly, the bureau is not asking state and local law enforcement agencies how many times they were able to get into cell phones, tablets, or computers despite the presence of encryption technology. This new, skewed “data collection” rule is designed to further the FBI’s longstanding “going dark” narrative: that encryption is making the bureau’s job next to impossible in terms of fighting crime.
Absolutely shameless. Goddamn craven. This is some bullshit. And we’re not even allowed to deliver comments to that effect because the FBI has chosen the “no public comments” option while asking cops to tell the FBI what it wants to hear.
The “View Additional Information” leads you to the paragraph where the FBI tells you, the people, that the FBI isn’t really interested in the governed having any say in this narrow, biased information gathering effort.
If you have additional comments especially on the estimated public burden or associated response time, suggestions, or need a copy of the proposed information collection instrument with instructions or additional information, please contact Edward Abraham, Unit Chief, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Module D–1, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306 (phone: 304–625–4830).
Yes, all you’re able to comment on is how long it might take or how many government resources might be tied up. You’re not allowed to tell the FBI to shut the fuck up about encryption until it issues the corrections it promised more than a half-decade ago. You’re also not allowed to tell the FBI you’ve found plenty of workarounds to address encryption, even if you’re a law enforcement agency. The FBI only wants information that agrees with its narrative.
This collection is needed to collect data on the volume of law enforcement investigations that are negatively impacted by device and software encryption.
“Negatively impacted” is the only concern. The FBI doesn’t want input that shares knowledge about encryption workarounds or the multiple private sector options law enforcement has that mitigate the impact of device/software encryption. The FBI wants publicly-funded confirmation bias. It is in no way interested in actually seeking the truth about encryption’s impact on criminal investigations.
I have asked the FBI to respond to its refusal to allow the public to comment, despite claiming this proposal will accept public comments until June 23. I’m not expecting to get a straight answer. I’m actually not expecting to receive any answer at all. The FBI has long since decided its largest stakeholder — the 300+ million people who pay its employees’ salaries — isn’t worth addressing honestly or openly. Whatever comes of this will be used to propel the FBI’s false narrative. And we’ll be expected to foot the bill for the estimated 50,667 federal hours it will take for the agency to continue creating “going dark” fan fiction.