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Seeking 'Backdoor Access' to Communications, FBI Faces Encryption Catch-22


#1

Seeking 'Backdoor Access' to Communications, FBI Faces Encryption Catch-22

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

In separate hearings before two Senate subcommittees on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey argued that without special access to secure communications, the United States will be unable to "identify and stop terrorists who are using social media to recruit, plan and execute an attack in our country."


#2

FCNL has just published "The Illusion of Security" - June 2015
Friends Committee on National Legislation is a Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
http://fcnl.org/resources/newsletter/june15/?utm_content=Link+466891&utm_campaign=washington+newsletter&utm_source=The+illusion+of+security&utm_medium=Email


#3

Look, if state-of-the-art encryption didn't work, Comey wouldn't pathetically plea for a "creative" approach to the impossible problem of providing backdoors without leaving security holes.

The only reasonable apprehension is whether you can trust a particular software or hardware company to provide clean end-to-end encryption. People who know what they're doing rely on the integrity of open-source encryption tools - if all the code is available for anyone to look at, there's no place to hide backdoors.

The only (tenuously) possible means of breaking clean long-key encryption would be via a quantum computer. But quantum computing is a wild bronco which may not ever be tamed enough to crack long-key encryption. That's why world-class encryption experts like Edward Snowden say the technology to protect your confidential communications is indeed available.


#4

It quite simple really. It is not the threat to privacy of citizens that will put a stop to these ever expanding requests , but rather a threat to corporate profits.

I have seen one article that claimed US IT companies have lost 35 billion in revenues because of the NSA and this desire to spy.

Foreign firms and governments will not buy technologies that the US government can hack into at will. Russia , China and Brazil are among the many countries that are restricting the purchase of US technology because they fear those " back doors".


#5

"Repressive regimes will exploit back doors to identify “troublemakers” and throw them in jail."

The USA certainly qualifies as one of these "repressive Regimes."


#6

Nice link... thanks.

Our 'Surveillance Community' (formerly known as the Intelligence Community) doesn't understand why we don't want to lose our freedoms nor why being watched constantly is neither freedom nor security but something that starts to feel like imprisonment.

Being under constant surveillance is not freedom.

Who watches the watchers when they watch in secret?

When do we discuss the exceptions to constant surveillance? Are our politicians constantly surveilled? Political party HQs? Board meetings for mega corporations deciding strategy? Stock exchange insider trading info?

Do the members of the Surveillance Community submit to surveillance being carried out on themselves and of their families?

Are the Koch brothers surveilled? Somehow I doubt that they are?


#7

People who know what they're doing rely on the integrity of open-source encryption tools - if all the code is available for anyone to look at, there's no place to hide backdoors.

In theory, yes. But it's important to realize that:

  • It's not enough for the code to be available for inspection; it needs
    to actually be inspected. And that doesn't really happen all that
    often. Very few open source projects undergo formal security audits,
    and most of them are lacking in peoplepower; and

  • Even when people do inspect the code, there are very few open source
    programmers who are real security experts. And even experts can have
    trouble finding security holes deliberately introduced by skilled
    hackers (as opposed to the stupid mistakes that cause most known
    vulnerabilities).

Consider, for example, the Heartbleed bug, which was present in OpenSSL - one of the most important and widely-used security components there is - for more than 2 years before it was discovered.

And who knows what might lurk in obscure corners of the Linux kernel? Its codebase is huge these days, and even Linus Torvalds lacks detailed knowledge of large parts of it. And I gather a number of people are concerned about the increasing influence of Red Hat - with its close ties to the Military-Industrial complex - on core Linux development. I'm not in a position to judge, but that seems like a very reasonable concern.

In short: I'm very much in favor of open source software; I'm an open source developer myself, and rarely use Microsoft products. But it's not a panacea.


#9

That certainly was the case with COINTELPRO. The now known history of the FBI is chilling to say the least:

wiki says:

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal,[1][2] projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.[3]

The FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception; however, covert operations under the official COINTELPRO label took place between 1956 and 1971.[4] COINTELPRO tactics have been alleged to include discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including assassination.[5][6][7] The FBI's stated motivation was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."[8]

FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed "subversive",[9] including

communist and socialist organizations;
organizations and individuals associated with the Civil Rights Movement, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, and other civil rights organizations;
black nationalist groups;
the Young Lords;
the American Indian Movement;
the white supremacist groups;
the Ku Klux Klan;
the National States' Rights Party;
a broad range of organizations labeled "New Left", including Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen;
almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, as well as individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation;
the National Lawyers Guild;
organizations and individuals associated with the women's rights movement;
nationalist groups such as those seeking independence for Puerto Rico, United Ireland, and Cuban exile movements including Orlando Bosch's Cuban Power and the Cuban Nationalist Movement;
and additional notable Americans.[10]
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives governing COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate" the activities of these movements and their leaders.[11][12] Under Hoover, the agent in charge of COINTELPRO was William C. Sullivan.[13] Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy personally authorized some of these programs.[14] Kennedy would later learn that he also had been a target of FBI surveillance.[citation needed]

Clearly, these "dirty tricks" carried out by FBI are unAmerican and anti-democratic. My knowledge of the shocking FBI cover up of TWA800 and FBI giving explosives to the Boston Bomber is so jaw dropping, I think it's safe to assume that most terrorism originates from within the US government.

Aviation Week and Space Technology covered the FBI preventing the NTSB from photographing the TWA800 wreckage on the seafloor bottom. It was the first time in history NTSB was not allowed to do their job. Later FBI stalked NTSB investigators and prevented them from photographing charred and punctured aircraft skin showing the explosion happened outside the aircraft, not inside the center fuel tank as the FBI claimed in their falsified reconstruction video that did not match the flight data recorder.

Of course the CIA media barely even covered this coverup, but it was mentioned.

After all this, the FBI asks all of us to trust it not to read our private effects and not to blackmail us! Unbelievable. Since Hoover and his death squads against "Anarchists" (read: Organized Labor), the agency has proved itself untrustworthy.

Watch the movie "Hoover" for a taste of the "control freak" genesis embedded in the culture of FBI.


#10

"If such a message is intercepted, as Comey said, it looks like "gobbledygook." Sounds like one of Mr. Comey's FBI investigations!