U.S. House Judiciary Committee determines encryption backdoors against national interests

Posted:
in General Discussion
In a rebuke to the anti-encryption campaign waged by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation--with Apple as a target--the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Encryption Working Group issued a report today stating "any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest."




In a bipartisan report, the group observed that "any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest," citing representatives of the national security community who noted that "strong encryption is vital to the national defense and to securing vital assets, such as critical infrastructure."

A second finding of the report was that "encryption technology is a global technology that is widely and increasingly available around the world." That echoed an earlier study for Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society."Any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest"

Conducted by cryptography expert Bruce Schneier and colleagues Kathleen Seidel and Saranya Vijayakumar, that report from February surveyed the availability of encryption products worldwide and compiled findings that made it clear that U.S. laws to weaken domestic encryption wouldn't stop malicious users from obtaining foreign encryption but would put U.S. firms--such as Apple--at a competitive disadvantage.

The HJC report further suggested that "Congress should foster cooperation between the law enforcement community and technology companies," the same suggestion Apple's chief executive Tim Cook made in asking that the elected representatives of the U.S. Congress work on the issue rather than having it be pushed through under court orders facilitated by the state police, invoking fears of terrorism as a emotional ploy.

Good cop? Bad cop.

The prospect of legally requiring backdoors to bypass encryption has simmered in the background ever since digital encryption became affordable and practical for individuals in the 1990s. However, the matter came to a head in February of this year when a federal judge issued an order requiring Apple to work for the FBI in an attempt to bypass iOS security measures to allow access to decrypt data on an iPhone 5c.

Cook resisted the order, standing up not only to the FBI but also to initial media reports that criticized the company for supposedly "failing to help unlock a phone used by a terrorist."

That message was false; Apple had no ability to "unlock" the encrypted phone, and the federal government's police lacked the authority to dictate that Apple had to build them a security-compromised version of iOS.

FBI director James Comey pursued a charm campaign using FBI press releases to insist that "the San Bernardino litigation isn't about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message," and subsequently repeated those comments in testimony to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.


FBI director James Comey


However, Comey has a vast public record of desperately seeking to break encryption. In 2015, Comey unsuccessfully lobbied the Obama administration to press for laws empowering the police to force private companies to break their own encryption products.

Just days after claiming to the American people and to Congress that the FBI wasn't "trying to set a precedent," Comey let the truth slip in comments before the House Judiciary Committee, admitting that "of course" his agency would seek to use the precedent gained from a win in the San Bernardino to unlock other phones.

Comey has since embroiled himself and his agency in further controversy by creating the appearance of actively seeking to influence the U.S. Presidential election in favor of a candidate that had earlier jumped into the encryption debate unarmed with facts or even a rudimentary understanding of the issues involved, but with a strong "law and order" rhetoric that enflamed support for whatever Comey's FBI might demand.
Soli1st

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    Wow, a committee that actually thinks it through and comes to the correct conclusion. 
    Soliroundaboutnowrepressthisewtheckmanmagman1979manfred zornstanthemankamiltonretrogustobaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Common sense prevails!! How did that happen?
    edited December 2016 Soliroundaboutnowrobin huberrepressthismagman1979manfred zornkamiltonpscooter63jSnivelyretrogusto
  • Reply 3 of 18
    We'll see if the incoming Putin administration goes along with this. 
    Eric_WVGGSolinapoleon_phoneapartroundaboutnowEsquireCatsrepressthischromosboredumbvolcanAppleZulu
  • Reply 4 of 18
    That means intercepting terrorists' communications channels will not work in principle. 
    kamilton
  • Reply 5 of 18
    There is no such thing as weakening encryption it's either strong or broken. If you break encryption it's *trivial* to roll your own alternative. If the US government mandates that iMessage, et al must have a backdoor: then one can simply use a nearly infinite number of other ways to pass along encrypted communications. Backdoors do not stop criminal behaviour – they only weaken the security of ordinary citizens.
    ibillmanfred zornbaconstangDonvermonetmagemelodyof1974watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 18
    I just gained back some faith in politicians and the U.S.A Government.

    '"any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest," citing representatives of the national security community who noted that "strong encryption is vital to the national defense and to securing vital assets, such as critical infrastructure."'

    Wow.

    kamiltonretrogustobaconstangDonvermowatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,405member
    Tomorrow's Headline:

    House Judiciary Committee - "Just Kidding!!!"   :D :D :D
    kamiltonanantksundaramwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,622member
    blastdoor said:
    We'll see if the incoming Putin administration goes along with this. 
    Plus a few more +10
    baconstangjony0
  • Reply 9 of 18
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,880member
    Now Obama just needs to fire Comey to really bring sanity to D.C. At least for a few minutes anyway. 
    kamiltonanantksundaramwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    Bruce Schneier is da man. he's also critical of bogus airport "security theatre", which doesn't really make us safer but helps politicians look tough on terror. 
    ration alretrogustobaconstangnetmage
  • Reply 11 of 18
    blastdoor said:
    We'll see if the incoming Putin administration goes along with this. 
    Someone does owe Comey a favor and has spoken out against companies who won't give the government a backdoor.  Even went so far as to call for a boycott on Apple products.
    edited December 2016 larryabaconstangblastdoorjony0
  • Reply 12 of 18
    Amazing! I did did not think that Washington DC was capable of such sanity.

    I am glad they got it done before the new administration got sworn in. 
    retrogustobaconstangwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 18
    This is an encouraging sign. To begin with, American LEOs who have stepped up to the pulpit to attempt to paint Apple as in cahoots with criminals have completely ignored the fact that encryption isn't some American military secret. In calling for backdoors, these self-serving LEOs and politicians have conveniently neglected to mention the fact that encryption boils down to math and computer science. Weakening encryption in the US with backdoors will do nothing to stop malicious users from finding ways to communicate in secret. It's another encouraging sign that backdoors have been labeled as "weakening encryption." This is a label that Comey and other LEOs have vigorously refuted.

    It's time people realize that encryption has far more uses than to just protect us from government intrusion. This is how Comey and other LEOs have attacked encryption-by painting as a tool meant solely to protect our civil liberties. Granted that civil liberties are a major consideration with encryption but the need for encryption goes far beyond just that. The threat of hackers is very real and very grave to an extent that weakening encryption will actually make us less secure as a nation. 
    baconstang
  • Reply 14 of 18
    Comey has to pull his head out of his nether region, find the door and leave.
    buzdots
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Now we have to get the people in the U.K. to understand this too. They're trying to impose broken-encryption there as the law of the land. It is already the law and the issue is whether they'll be able to enforce it.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    blastdoor said:
    We'll see if the incoming Putin administration goes along with this. 
    Someone does owe Comey a favor and has spoken out against companies who won't give the government a backdoor.  Even went so far as to call for a boycott on Apple products.
    The KGB's job would be a lot harder if everyone in the US was using strong encryption all the time with no back doors. 
  • Reply 17 of 18
    peteopeteo Posts: 310member
    This is awesome. But I still worry about the incoming administration not agreeing with this and requiring back doors. If they want it they have all branches of government and would have a very high likely hood of passing.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    blastdoor said:
    blastdoor said:
    We'll see if the incoming Putin administration goes along with this. 
    Someone does owe Comey a favor and has spoken out against companies who won't give the government a backdoor.  Even went so far as to call for a boycott on Apple products.
    The KGB's job would be a lot harder if everyone in the US was using strong encryption all the time with no back doors. 
    Yes, Hillary Clinton might have something to say on this subject. And on the subject of firing Comey.
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