Encryption Hinders Investigations: FBI Chief - InformationWeek

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Encryption Hinders Investigations: FBI Chief
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User Rank: Strategist
7/9/2015 | 5:13:55 PM
Next hearing ...
Once again, law enforcement took the federal center stage on encryption and provided no instances when encryption has prevented them from doing their jobs. In addition, Yates couldn't give any indication on the number of times when she believed encryption was an obstacle or in use. I'm not expecting them to crack a case or give tips to Comey's "bad guys" on the public stage. But, if there is an expectation of a "compromise", as it was repeatedly described (and ignoring the technological issues with that phrase), there should be some offering on when and how crypto is blocking court orders or the current tools law enforcement has in play. Exposure of widespread surveillance and invasive communications dragnets can, you know, cause a chilling effect. And next hearing, maybe members of Congress could add a panelist or two from the tech/data companies that were faulted by Comey and Yates as being reluctant to hand out keys/access.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2015 | 12:11:15 PM
Re: Wrong Problem?
>Article mentions that they used to be able to compel access with a warrant, but no longer can. That sounds like the root problem that should be fixed.

The problem is that when a third party like Apple doesn't have the encryption key, it cannot be compelled to decrypt the data. Math trumps a court order. Moreover, companies have discovered that it's not helpful to their businesses to be the go-to source for law enforcement. Many don't want the responsibility (or compliance cost) of betraying customers on-demand.

It's possible to make it a crime to withhold encryption keys when authorities ask the first party/suspect, but in the US that presents consitutional problems against self-incrimination. Authoritarian regimes can simply declare you must provide us access or we'll beat you, jail you, or seize your assets. But that doesn't make for an appealing business climate.
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2015 | 11:43:44 AM
Wrong Problem?
Article mentions that they used to be able to compel access with a warrant, but no longer can. That sounds like the root problem that should be fixed.
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2015 | 7:41:38 AM
They don't get it
This is the biggest problem facing politics and linked organisations: the people involved don't come from technological backrounds. This means that they don't really understand the ramifications of what they're saying. 

The fact that government databases like the White House Office of Personnel were stolen should show that encryption is one of the few ways to truly protect data. Messing with that would open the door to all sorts of problems.

Or more likely it would mean that people didn't use that encryption standard and instead used another. It's a bizarre idea to assume that terrorists or other groups would use something that they know is easily breakable by law enforcement. 

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