Eric Holder makes insane comments on encryption at recent appearence
By Mike Masnick @ Tech Dirt
Well, you knew it was coming. First, law enforcement trotted out random low level “law enforcement officials” to freak out about Apple and Google’s announced plans to make encryption the default on mobile phones. Then it got taken up a notch when FBI boss James Comey lashed out at the idea, bizarrely arguing that merely encrypting your data made individuals “above the law” (none of that is accurate). And, now, Comey’s boss, Attorney General Eric Holder has stepped up to issue a similar warning. However, Holder has cynically chosen to do so at the Biannual Global Alliance Conference Against Child Sexual Abuse Online.
At this point, it’s all too predictable that when anyone in power is getting ready to take away your rights, they’ll figure out a way to claim that it’s “for the children!” The statements over the past week by law enforcement, Comey and now Holder are clearly a coordinated attack — the start of the new crypto wars (a repeat of what we went through a decade and a half ago), designed to pass some laws that effectively cripple encryption and put backdoors in place. Holder’s take on this is to cynically pull on heartstrings about “protecting the children” despite this having nothing, whatsoever, to do with that.
When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.
Again, as stated last week, the same argument could be made about walls and doors and locks.
It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy.
The key issue here is “adequately” and forgive many of us for saying so, but the public no longer trusts the DOJ/NSA/FBI to handle these things appropriately. And, just as importantly, we have little faith that the backdoors that the DOJ is pushing for here aren’t open to abuse by others with malicious intent. Protecting personal privacy is about protecting personal privacy — and the way you do that is with encryption. Not backdoors.
But Holder used this opportunity to cynically pile on about criminals using encryption, rather than noting any of the important benefits towards privacy they provide:
Recent technological advances have the potential to greatly embolden online criminals, providing new methods for abusers to avoid detection. In some cases, perpetrators are using cloud storage to cheaply and easily store tens of thousands of images and videos outside of any home or business – and to access those files from anywhere in the world. Many take advantage of encryption and anonymizing technology to conceal contraband materials and disguise their locations.
The DOJ has long wanted to restart the crypto wars that it lost (very badly) last time around (even though that “loss” helped enable parts of the internet to thrive by making it more secure). For years it’s been looking to do things like reopen wiretapping statutes like CALEA and mandate wiretap backdoors into all sorts of technology. Now it’s cynically jumping on this bit of news about Apple and Google making it just slightly easier to protect your privacy to try to re-open those battles and shove through new laws that will emphatically decrease your privacy.