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FBI Boss Chris Wray: We Put A Man On The Moon So Why Not Encryption Backdoors?


steven36

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from the yeah-ok-then dept

 

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Despite the FBI finally admitting it had greatly exaggerated the number of encrypted devices it can't get into, FBI Director Chris Wray keeps pushing the "going dark" theory to whoever will listen. This time it was NBC's Lester Holt. In an interview during the Aspen Security Forum, Wray again hinted he was moving towards an anti-encryption legislative mandate if some sort of (impossible) "compromise" couldn't be reached with tech companies. (Transcription via Eric Geller.)

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I think there should be [room for compromise]. I don't want to characterize private conversations we're having with people in the industry. We're not there yet for sure. And if we can't get there, there may be other remedies, like legislation, that would have to come to bear.

 

The "compromise" Wray wants is simple: if law enforcement has a warrant, it gets access. The solution isn't. To weaken or backdoor encryption to serve law enforcement's needs makes everyone -- not just criminal suspects -- less safe. If a hole can be used by good guys, it can be used by bad guys. And even the best guys can't prevent their tech tools from making their way into the public domain. Just ask the NSA and CIA. In the case of the NSA, leaked exploits resulted in worldwide ransomware attacks.

 

Wray pitches an impossibility by portraying it as a lack of effort by the tech industry. The tech industry -- the one with all the "brightest minds" -- have been consistent in their stance. A hole for one is a hole for all. There's no such thing as securely-compromised encryption. Wray's response has also been consistent: they're just not thinking hard enough. The only "compromise" pitched by members of the tech sector is basically re-skinned key escrow -- the thing that went out of fashion with the death of the Clipper Chip.

 

Wray's pitch now includes an appeal to the modern wonders of the world, as if these examples change the equation at all:

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We're a country that has unbelievable innovation. We put a man on the moon. We have the power of flight. We have autonomous vehicles… [T]he idea that we can't solve this problem as a society -- I just don't buy it.

 

First off, bringing the space program into this is ridiculous. All it does is demonstrate the government has access to some of the best minds, but Wray expects the private sector to provide, maintain, and bear the expense of a law enforcement-friendly encryption "solution." (And if it fails to deliver, Wray's more than willing to ask the government to force the private sector to play ball.)

 

Second, putting a man on the moon was the side effect of a Cold War cock-measuring contest with the USSR. While the nation has derived many benefits over the years from the space program, the "man on the moon" mission was a way of expressing superiority and implying that our weaponry was similarly advanced. The US government showed the world how powerful it was. I don't think that's the analogy you want to make when discussing personal device encryption.

 

And third, the whole "putting a man on the moon" analogy was solidly mocked on John Oliver's program two years ago when he quoted cryptography expert Matt Blaze accurately saying, "When I hear 'if we can put a man on the moon, we can do this' I'm hearing an analogy almost saying "if we can put a man on the moon, surely we can put a man on the sun.'" Not every issue is the equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

While the others listed are private sector achievements, they're simply not good comparisons. Encryption methods continue to advance in complexity and ease-of-use. This is innovation, even if it's innovation Chris Wray doesn't like. Each of the innovations listed solved problems and created markets. In this case the problem is device security. Encryption solves it. Who wants secure devices? Everyone who buys one.

 

The rise of smartphones has seen users replace their houses with handheld devices as the primary storage for a life's-worth of documents, along with access to a great deal of financial and personal info. Device makers want to ensure a stolen phone doesn't mean a stolen life. Wray (and others) don't want to do anything more than obtain warrants to scrape the digital innards of devices they seize. In other words, when the FBI encounters a locked safe in someone's house, Wray would believe it's the manufacturer's fault for the safe failing to unlock immediately in the presence of a search warrant.

 

Still, Wray believes society as a whole would be better off with weaker encryption because sometimes terrorists and criminals use encryption.

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Because to the extent that the bad guys have shifted more and more to living their whole lives through encrypted devices and encrypted messaging platforms, that if we don't find a way to access that information with lawful process, we're in a bad place as a country.

 

Default encryption has been around for a few years now and there's no evidence we're less safe as a nation. Very few prosecutions have been dead-ended because investigators couldn't get into a phone. The problem is presented as swiftly-growing and inevitable, but there's been nothing delivered as evidence of these claims. The FBI has continually pointed to its growing pile of locked devices as Exhibit A in the War on Encryption, but has never presented anything at all to give these claims of diminishing public safety any credence. All we know for sure at this point is the FBI can't count. It used a wrong number (~7,800) to push the narrative and still expects us to believe it after it admitted this count was nearly four times higher than the actual number of devices in its possession.

 

Wray needs to stop complaining about the tech sector until his own agency can demonstrate its ability to approach the issue with facts, verified numbers, and intellectual honesty.

 

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arguing Russia vs USA or USA vs Russia is not something that should be done here...bad things tend to happen as they have in the past...most of the people that took offense one way or the other have been kind and not responded ...you should take that reasoning and do the same..propaganda posts on either view tend to cause issues here...lets all do our part to not go there again please and thankyou

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Why are we so afraid of the truth?  The false finds all ways to stop, censor, ban even the healthy discussions.  The truth is open to all views at all times at all places.  False is afraid even of its own shadow.  The truth knows no fear! 

 

The Truth Shall Set You Free!

 

Cheers!   :drunk:

 

Thank you.  :flowers:

 

 

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Lest my comment(s) be misunderstood:  I don't know what is the truth.  But I am not in favor of closing the door at the very first feelings of discomfort.  Wave theory, Relativity theory, Quantum theory, and many other innovations couldn't have taken place if we failed to listen to new ideas even if they went against the very grain of our existing dearly-held knowledge.

 

What is so difficult about keeping an open mind?  It's as simple as this (at least imo).  Thank you. 

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1 hour ago, tao said:

Lest my comment(s) be misunderstood:  I don't know what is the truth.  But I am not in favor of closing the door at the very first feelings of discomfort.  Wave theory, Relativity theory, Quantum theory, and many other innovations couldn't have taken place if we failed to listen to new ideas even if they went against the very grain of our existing dearly-held knowledge.

 

What is so difficult about keeping an open mind?  It's as simple as this (at least imo).  Thank you. 

just saying..if you want to argue valid points to someones else valid points and visa versa ... there are sites  galore that welcome that.. every time that  takes place here, people  end up getting into terrible fights, some members get banned  and hard feelings never really go away...and the site suffers... we really do not need another round of crap  upon more crap upon more crap over something that does not ever serve a real purpose... one mans truth is seen as  rank  lies and ..sometimes both sides of the argument is wrong and most times nobody will ever change their mind...as i said if you want to fight like that over dogma politics and statesmanship please members don't do it here

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@dMog, Your valid point(s) lose a lot when using language such as "crap ... carp ...crap."  I understand, however, the point that this forum is not the right place for such discussions.  Thank you.  ?

 

[About other points, e.g., finding the truth about moon landings, etc., no comments as they unnecessarily disturb some minds -- but not all.]

:flowers:

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but if it is causing so much trouble ...comments can be crap upon crap...keep in mind on certain topics one person's perfume will smell like crap to another person and vice-versa .... sometimes it is just best to not start that stuff here...we are not here to be the debate society ...as i said man times there at tons of sites that welcome that stuff ... and truly, every time anyone here has differing opinions on politics, countries, race, and a few other subjects it hs always gotten ugly really fast.... and sometimes extremely ugly. not too many people are capable to be this anonymous and be civil..it may be different in real live in real time sitting across from a table over a coffee or a beer when you see the person as  an actual living breathing human 

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@dMog, the above comments impeach members' characters rather than the "Subject(s)"Thank you!  ?

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