Working cryptography's pretty amazing: because of its fundamental theoretical soundness, we can trust it to secure the firmware updates to our pacemakers; the conversations we have with our loved ones, lawyers and business colleagues; the financial transactions the world depends on; and the integrity of all sorts of data, communications and transactions.
The FBI hates encryption, because they thought the digital world could be one where, for the first time in history, they'd be able to store and look through every conversation anyone has, anywhere, and crypto means that they can only spy on people with a warrant, using traditional techniques like hidden mics, informants, and subpoenas.
The FBI -- along with many other law enforcement and surveillance agents -- insists that it is possible to make crypto that will protect our devices, transactions, data, communications and lives, but which will fail catastrophically whenever a cop needs it to.
When technologists explain that this isn't a thing, the FBI insists that they just aren't nerding hard enough.
The latest example of this is FBI Director Christopher Wray's remarks earlier this week at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York, where he insisted that nerds just weren't applying themselves, saying "I just do not buy the claim that it is impossible."
The FBI supports strong encryption and information security broadly, Wray said, but described the current status quo as untenable.
"We face an enormous and increasing number of cases that rely heavily, if not exclusively, on electronic evidence," Wray told an audience of FBI agents, international law enforcement representatives and private sector cyber professionals. A solution requires "significant innovation," Wray said, "but I just do not buy the claim that it is impossible."
Unbreakable encryption an ‘urgent public safety issue,’ FBI director says [Dustin Volz/Reuters]