Yep. The president is wrong and doesn't realize it, or he's providing himself with cover to shift the blame onto others.
I like Mr. Obama, but this is such disappointing bullshit from him. He's the boss of the FBI and the DoJ. He should first tell them to chill.
Dronebama, our fearless civil liberties compromiser, used to be a "Constitutional Law" professor, but now he is an encryption expert...and so are FBI chief Comey and AG Lynch....
Witness an object lesson on the origins of sophistry. The chuckle, of course, is that Obama has to know this. Much of Western pragmatism is premised on the logical fallacy that "the truth lies between two extremes" - which is hogwash. Gravity isn't defined as the midpoint between floating around in the air and Jovian pressures keeping us flattened against the ground. Etc..The crucial questions of privacy, liberty, are defined by our constitution and the bill of rights - and if Obama and his peers in the snooping industry want to change that all they need is a constitutional amendment.Not that I'm confident that a society that revels in something called reality TV wouldn't roll over to protect the children, stop terrorism, prevent the evil empire of darkness from existing after sunset, blah, blah, blah.
rogue cheddar said:
I have a serious question I hope someone can answer. Say the government and FBI fight all the way to SCOTUS and win. They get to tell Apple a Blackfoot must be created. Apple still refuses. Then what? Are they just fined every day? Would someone go to jail? Could the government shut down Apple? On the flip side, say SCOTUS upholds the FBI and Apple DOES make a backdoor-- and then proceeds to make a different, even tougher encryption which their backdoor can't access. Then what?Just like in Wargames, it seems the only solutions is not to play. Sadly, the government does not like to appear weak
Speaking on the encryption debate at SXSW Interactive in Austin on Friday, President Barack Obama carefully navigated the waters between government overreach and civil liberties, saying that while both sides need to make concessions, encryption advocates should avoid taking an absolutist stance on the issue.
During a lengthy and wide-ranging discussion with Evan Smith, Editor in Chief of The Texas Tribune, Obama delivered what at first blush appears to be an even-keeled presentation of a topic that has, over the past month, morphed into a war of words between the Department of Justice and Apple.
"Technology is evolving so rapidly that new questions are being asked, and I am of the view that there are very real reasons why we want to make sure the government cannot just willy-nilly get into everybody's iPhones -- or smartphones -- that are full of very personal information," Obama said.
A federal magistrate judge in February ordered Apple to help the FBI break into a passcode-protected iPhone used by San Bernardino terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook. The company is resisting, claiming, among other things, that the creation of a software workaround inherently weakens iOS encryption mechanisms and would thus put all iPhones at risk.
Unlike other politicians, Obama appears to have a good grasp of the issue's technical details, noting he thinks Apple's argument is likely true, albeit overstated. However, he did caution against an "absolutist" stance on the matter, saying un-hackable encryption is not an ideal solution. Law enforcement agencies exist to ensure public safety, and they need certain tools and levels of access to do so.
Obama suggested a solution that allows for constrained government access to private data. He likened the intrusion to TSA checks at the airport, drunk driving road blocks or tax enforcement; all accepted policies that, while potentially unpleasant, are recognized as important to the greater good.
"This notion that somehow our data is different and can be walled off from those other tradeoffs we make, I believe is incorrect," he said. "My conclusion so far is that you cannot take an absolutist view on this. So if your argument is 'strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should in fact create black boxes,' that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years. And it's fetishizing our phone above every other value, and that can't be the right answer."
But the issue, of course, is in finding a system of checks and balances that appeases law enforcement requests while at the same time offering high levels of protection for consumers. Obama said one solution could be allowing very narrow access to personal data, which basically describes a privileged backdoor. Apple and fellow tech companies are vehemently against such concessions.
"If everybody goes to their respective corners and the tech community says, 'you know what, either we have strong, perfect encryption, or else it's big brother and [an] Orwellian world,' what you'll find is that after something really bad happens the politics of this will swing and it will become sloppy and rushed," Obama said. "And it will go through Congress in ways that have not been thought through. And then you really will have a danger to our civil liberties because the disengaged or taken a position that is not sustainable."
The WSJ reported in Feb: "The FBI this month was asking Congress for $69 million to "counter the threat of "Going Dark"– being unable to access data because of encryption and other techniques.The bureau currently devotes 39 people and $31 million to this effort."
In other words, the FBI is using the Apple iPhone "access" demand to convince Congress to more than double their budget from $31 million to $69 million "this month".
To those who do not believe the NSA has the capability to break encryption, read this article "NSA is Mysteriously Absent From FBI-Apple Fight"
My conclusion: This is a power play and money grab by FBI director James Comey. His history points to this – he was part of the Bush Administration and is one of the architects who helped write the 'Patriot Act', before being appointed as FBI Director in 2013. So he is a very experienced Washington insider. I also happen to believe he is an authoritarian zealot masquerading as a law enforcement bureaucrat. When he states that 'this is the hardest thing he's ever done', I would take that literally – it is indeed very hard to get your way in Washington and convince Congress to make new law. Mr. Comey's entire agenda is to make his job (and law enforcement) easier. When he uses 'double-speak' and says things like "personal privacy and liberty are very important to me", what he really means is it is very important to him because the FBI wants unfettered access around it. George Orwell is turning over in his grave.
Avoiding "absolutist" positions is even possible in this debate?It's a binary option. Either there is a backdoor/weakness or there isn't. There is no middle ground.So much for Obama having "a good grasp of the issue's technical details." He's not doing any better than any other politician (from both sides of the aisle) saying exactly the same thing in different words.