US Attorney General Barr doubles down on encryption backdoors call

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 23
The US Attorney General William Barr has waded into the ongoing encryption debate, claiming the encryption of data is putting the security of America at risk by stopping law enforcement officials from being able to track criminals, and calling for the creation of security-defeating backdoors that somehow do not weaken encryption.

US Attorney General William Barr (via Associated Press)
US Attorney General William Barr (via Associated Press)


Speaking at a Fordham University conference on cybersecurity on Tuesday, Barr suggested the use of encryption "is already imposing huge costs on society," and seriously "degrades the ability for law enforcement to detect and prevent crime before it occurs." In investigating crimes, it is also "thwarting law enforcements' ability to identify those responsible, or to successfully prosecute the guilty parties."

Barr insists the issue will exponentially increase as the use of "warrant-proof encryption" accelerates, as this will "embolden" criminals who believe they cannot be caught, video from the Associated Press reports.





The speed them moved on to urging tech firms to cease "dogmatic pronouncements" claiming encryption backdoors cannot be done. "It can be and it must be," Barr believes. "We are confident that there are technical solutions that will allow lawful access to encrypted data and communications by law enforcement, without materially weakening the security provided by encryption.

Barr then suggests tech companies should turn their efforts in declaring backdoors "aren't worth exploring" to instead use their talents to "developing products that will reconcile good cybersecurity to the imperative of public safety and national security."

Barr's comments are a continuation of a long-running feud between governments and law enforcement who want access to encrypted data, and tech companies and privacy advocates wanting to maintain the security of encryption.

Governments and agencies, such as the FBI and the police, are in favor of weakening security by introducing backdoors, which would provide a similar function to wiretaps of providing law enforcement officials with a means to see the communications between two parties of interest.

Law enforcement officials have repeatedly suggested there are ways to allow law enforcement to gain access to data backdoors without exposing customer data to risk, in an effort to fix the so-called "going dark" problem.

There has even been the suggestion from the UK's GCHQ to create backdoors similar to the Group FaceTime bug from earlier in 2019, that could allow agencies to become a silent extra participant in a call, allowing it to be encrypted between all parties, but still enabling the ability to listen in or surveil the communications. In theory this would enable monitoring of systems with end-to-end encryption, such as FaceTime calls and iMessage communications, but it would require the producers of those systems to build access into them from the start.

In June, it was revealed the Trump administration was considering the possibility of outlawing end-to-end encryption in its entirety. While there were some within a National Security Council meeting that supported a similar measure to make encrypted data accessible, there was some pushback by the Commerce and State Departments over the potential economic and diplomatic consequences of backdoors.

Tech companies and privacy advocates insist that adding a backdoor to encryption fundamentally weakens it.

If encryption is a solid wall, the proposed backdoor is a lockable passageway that anyone with the key can get through. In this analogy, governments would gain access to the keys, but it is arguable that others could make copies of the keys, such as foreign agencies or criminals, or could even be accessed without the keys at all by a determined intruder.

There is also the argument by tech companies that adding a backdoor can hurt consumer confidence in a product or service. As for criminals, while a law could force legitimate services to break encryption for law enforcement, this wouldn't stop bad actors from setting up their own encrypted communications system.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 165member
    It’s a good thing that criminals are bad at math and programming and that there are no black sites that sell illicit items, otherwise all we would be doing is reducing privacy and security for law abiding citizens. 

    /s 
    hodarjahbladegutengelmac_dogmwhitegeorgie01cgWerkssdw2001chaickastompy
  • Reply 2 of 53
    hodarhodar Posts: 277member
    How about you do your due diligence, issue subpoenas and get Search Warrants?

    Why must I sacrifice my data security, so that you have an easier time monitoring my actions?  We have existing laws, and a Constitution that primarily exists for the purpose of limiting Government overreach.
    emoellerjahbladerob53leehammtaddGabymacseekermanfred zornchaickadysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 53
    Barr what about the voting machines? Those didn't have strong encryptions and look where we are now.....
    jahbladegutengelp-dogmacxpressdysamoriajeffharrisapplericbeowulfschmidtmontrosemacsjony0
  • Reply 4 of 53
    2770 Lorca2770 Lorca Posts: 14unconfirmed, member
    Barr what about the voting machines? Those didn't have strong encryptions and look where we are now.....
    Hahahahahahaha, me parto de risa. Ole! ole!
    leehamm
  • Reply 5 of 53
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,450member
    Encryption is open source and can easily be created if it wasn’t.
    Luckily the world isn't the USA, good luck at stopping Telegram.   

    chaickajbdragon
  • Reply 6 of 53
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,923member
    So, does the federal government want the same back doors to apply to their fully encrypted systems? Just wondering.
    georgie01jeffharrisapplerichodartallgrasstechiejbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 53
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 331member
    These outdated individuals should just retire and get younger people with common sense and basic knowledge about tech in Gov.
    dysamoriajeffharrissuperklotonnomadmac
  • Reply 8 of 53
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,395member
    Well, he’s just plain wrong about this. Doesn’t matter which political side of the aisle the AG comes from, they all want their job made easier and damn the consequences.
    macseekerdysamoriaapplericjbdragon
  • Reply 9 of 53
    sandorsandor Posts: 549member
    Encryption doesn't kill people, people kill people.
    macseekermld53achaickaStrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 53
    sweetassweetas Posts: 4member
    Around 2017 the National Security Agency (NSA) had its backdoor and hacking software taken by the Shadow Brokers who then released the code. After this, you'll remember the Wanna Cry and other viruses were released using this code, and this infected millions of computers around the world including shutting down hospital systems and costing the UK NHS health system alone, over 92 million pounds.

    So clearly the government can't be trusted with back door access and Barr is either clueless or couldn't care less. It's important you write to your congressman, point out what happened the last time the NSA had backdoor tools, and that you vote accordingly.
    mld53amanfred zornchaickadysamorialeehammStrangeDaystmayapplerictallgrasstechie
  • Reply 11 of 53
    p-dogp-dog Posts: 28member
    It sounds like Barr pulled this crap out of his own “back door”.
    leehammjeffharrisStrangeDaysjony0
  • Reply 12 of 53
    rbelizerbelize Posts: 16member
    I believe in encryption. The government has no business with what I do on my phone/mac/ipad/etc. I also believe that once there is clear, irrefutable evidence that the person did a serious crime and there is reasonable belief that the criminal has evidence on his/her device, the authorities should be able to have access to this evidence. However, This should not be allowed haphazardly. Of course, once there is a break in encryption it will get abused, so I believe the onus is on the feds to create a legal framework of how they plan to use decryption "tool," and for any abuse to be severely punished.
  • Reply 13 of 53
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,292member
    AppleInsider said:
    As for criminals, while a law could force legitimate services to break encryption for law enforcement, this wouldn't stop bad actors from setting up their own encrypted communications system.
    This is really the crux of the issue. Even if we could trust the government with such access (which they have proven over and over, that we can't), and assume that access never goes beyond their hands (which again, as been proven a false assumption), the bad-guys could still just use some encrypted methods w/o back doors. This just really gives a broad 'fishing expedition' and data gathering capability to be abused (which, again, they've proven they will take advantage of).

    Barr what about the voting machines? Those didn't have strong encryptions and look where we are now.....
    Did I miss some news?
    dysamoria
  • Reply 14 of 53
    GabyGaby Posts: 71member
    This crap drives me insane. Complete and Utter b*llocks!!! These lazy, Incompetent, Arrogant Cretins need to remember how to do actual police and detective work. The establishment has become so used to being able to eavesdrop and snoop on every aspect of an individuals life and delve into ones most private and intimate of thoughts, that they now labour under the delusion that they are entitled to do so. And put quite simply, they are not.
    edited July 23 sergiozdysamoriajeffharris
  • Reply 15 of 53
    taddtadd Posts: 113member
     I’d be more inclined to give an ear to the government’s position if it would include a law that any agency must (within some specified time-period) inform each and every investigated or tapped Citizen that the citizen had been investigated, including by what authority, date the investigation starts and date it ends and all material that the agency surveilled from the Citizen.  

  • Reply 16 of 53
    indieshackindieshack Posts: 174member
    I believe in my data being secure, but I also think that there should be some means to access terrorist and other criminally used devices. I know that’s not a popular view here.
    sdw2001
  • Reply 17 of 53
    ivanhivanh Posts: 378member
    Us Barr a communist?
    Has he read the book “1984”?
    Does Barr want U.S. to be a police state?
    Does Barr want to eavesdrop everyone’s conversation too?
  • Reply 18 of 53
    ivanhivanh Posts: 378member
    mike1 said:
    So, does the federal government want the same back doors to apply to their fully encrypted systems? Just wondering.
    The federal government can start banning encryption.  China will be very happy. See what happens, Barr.
  • Reply 19 of 53
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,292member
    I believe in my data being secure, but I also think that there should be some means to access terrorist and other criminally used devices. I know that’s not a popular view here.
    The thing is, that just isn't really possible. It's either secure or it isn't.

    Barr is correct, though, in that this does hinder types of investigation that they used to be able to do years ago (ex: wiretap analogy). And, it certainly does make the world more dangerous if they aren't able to appropriately find terrorists before the strike, etc. So, I hear where you are coming from.

    However, properly understood, the reason it is so unpopular is not that we don't want terrorists stopped and criminals apprehended... it's because it isn't possible in the world we now live to have it both ways. Anything the gov't has, the bad-guys will either have and/or bypass, too. In the world we live in today, the downsides of that are just too bad to be worth that risk.

    This is similar to saying that freedom is a problem because people can do bad things within a system with freedom. That's true, but what's the alternative?

    The other problem, is that as society declines and the govn't becomes increasingly corrupt, what gets labeled as 'terrorism' and/or 'criminal activity' is going to be defined arbitrarily by the powers that be. You might be thinking you're fine with terrorists and criminals being monitored right now, but what about when a terrorist or criminal includes you?
    manfred zorn1STnTENDERBITSdysamoriamuthuk_vanalingamGaby
  • Reply 20 of 53
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,061member
    Barr what about the voting machines? Those didn't have strong encryptions and look where we are now.....
    That’s silly.  No voting machines were hacked.  
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