FBI chief demands an end to cellphone security

If your phone is designed to be secure against thieves, voyeurs, and hackers, it'll also stop spies and cops. So the FBI has demanded that device makers redesign their products so that they — and anyone who can impersonate them — can break into them at will.

Director James B. Comey doubled down on his earlier attack on cryptography in phones, giving a Brookings Institute talk where he called for "front doors" to let spies break into our computers:

The American Civil Liberties Union responded forcefully to Mr. Comey's comments about encryption. "Federal law explicitly protects the right of companies to add encryption with no back doors," Laura W. Murphy, director of the group's Washington legislative office, said in a written statement. "Whether the F.B.I. calls it a front door or a back door, any effort by the F.B.I. to weaken encryption leaves our highly personal information and our business information vulnerable to hacking by foreign governments and criminals."

Technology companies have argued that, even with encryption, there are still ways for law enforcement to legally circumvent encryption by intercepting data in the cloud, or by forcing criminal suspects to hand over the passwords to their devices.

F.B.I. Director Calls 'Dark' Devices a Hindrance to Crime Solving [Michael S Schmidt and Nicole Perlroth/NYT]