Nico Sell is the CEO of Wickr, a privacy-oriented mobile messaging system that's been deliberately designed so that the company can't spy on its users, even if they're ordered to do so. As we know from the Snowden leaks, spooks hate this kind of thing, and spend $250M/year sabotaging security so that they can spy on everyone, all the time.
After a recent presentation, she was approached by an FBI agent who asked her if she'd put a back-door into Wickr.
She declined. What's more, she lectured the agent on the First and Fourth Amendments, and on her family tradition of upholding liberty (her ancestor was a drummer boy in Washington's corps: "Washington thought it was very important to have freedom of information and private correspondence without government surveillance.").
Her lecture concluded, she proceeded to grill the agent. "I asked if he had official paperwork for me, if this was an official request, who his boss was," said Sell. "He backed down very quickly."
Though she didn't budge for the agent, Sell makes it clear that surveillance and security is a complicated issue. "Ten years ago, I'd have said yes," said Sell. "Because if law enforcement asks you to catch bad guys, who wouldn't want to help?"
The difference now, she explained, was her experiences at BlackHat. Among those, Sell pointed to a BlackHat event where Thomas Cross demonstrated how to break into lawful intercept machines—or wiretaps. "It was very clear that a backdoor for the good guys is always a backdoor for the bad guys."
What It's Like When The FBI Asks You To Backdoor Your Software [Max Eddy/PC Mag]
(Disclosure: I am proud to serve as an advisor to Wickr)
(Image: Back Door?, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from swanksalot's photostream)
Last week, Trump invited a collection to sheriffs to the White House for a rousing speech about the evils of the free press, exactly the kind of thing the leader of a democracy does all the time, and the sheriffs gave him a standing ovation, because that's exactly the kind of thing you'd want fairminded […]
Actually, it’s about ethics in purchasing videogames with campaign funds.
Whether it's paying for burying dedicated power-lines for data-centers, winning below-cost sweetheart deals on electricity rates, or securing tax-breaks and incentives to set up shop, Amazon Web Services has proven time and again that it is the nation's best cost-shifter, enjoying billions in tax-funded gifts for operating data centers that employ almost no one and […]
As more companies leverage cloud technology to unite and streamline their operations, the need for capable IT pros increases. But, as any IT guru will tell you, demand alone won’t get your foot in the door to this lucrative field. If you want to cash in on the demand and build a thriving IT career, […]
iOS 12 is finally here, which means now is the best time for aspiring developers to throw their hats into the app development game. While app development can be tricky for some, you can take an intuitive, beginner-friendly approach to understanding app creation and Apple’s latest iOS platform with the iOS 12 & Xcode 10 Bootcamp, […]
It might still be September, but the holiday season will be here before you know it, which means now is the time to think about where you want to vacation to—and what to do once you get there. To this end, we’ve scoured the Web and tracked down a number of travel hacking ebooks, gadgets, […]