The FBI has been trying to ban working cryptography since the Clinton years, a losing battle whose stakes go up with each passing day as the number of devices that depend on working crypto to secure them and their users goes up and up and up.
The FBI has been working on Congress to help them out with legislation that would ban tech companies from selling products with working crypto. To make the case for this, the Bureau likes to cite statistics about how many uncrackable criminals' phones they have seized and thus how many crimes remain unsolved because of the stubborn intransigence of nerds who refuse to simply NERD HARDER and make a crypto that works 100% of the time, except when the FBI needs it to fail.
Two years ago, the FBI was complaining that it had 880 unbreakable crimephones. Then, last year, the number shot up to 7,775. The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking how the FBI had come up with this figure, and today the FBI sheepishly admitted to the Washington Post that it had made it up. The "real number" is now thought to be between 1,000 and 2,000 (maybe).
Marcy Wheeler has covered this story for a long time, and her play-by-play is a great backgrounder.
Frankly, we’re not surprised. FBI Director Christopher Wray and others argue that law enforcement needs some sort of backdoor “exceptional access” in order to deal with the increased adoption of encryption, particularly on mobile devices. And the 7,775 supposedly unhackable phones encountered by the FBI in 2017 have been central to Wray’s claim that their investigations are “Going Dark.” But the scope of this problem is called into doubt by services offered by third-party vendors like Cellebrite and Grayshift, which can reportedly bypass encryption on even the newest phones. The Bureau’s credibility on this issue was also undercut by a recent DOJ Office of the Inspector General report, which found that internal failures of communication caused the government to make false statements about its need for Apple to assist in unlocking a seized iPhone as part of the San Bernardino case.
John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.
There's one week to go until an EU committee votes on a plan to "transform the internet into a tool for surveillance and control," that will permanently cement the place of American internet giants like Google and Facebook, freezing out smaller internet companies (and even large nonprofits like Wikipedia) who lack the tens of millions […]
In one week, an EU committee will vote on a pair of extreme copyright proposals that will ban linking to news articles without permission, and force internet platforms to spy on all the pictures, text, video, audio and code their users post, sending it to AIs designed to catch copyright infringement and automatically censor anything […]
While it’s fun to watch Hollywood action heroes hack into cameras to spy on their targets, the thought of an actual cybercriminal using our own security devices against us is chilling for most. That’s what makes the iPM World HD 360 Degree 1080p Wireless IP Camera essential for anyone looking to deter digital and physical intruders […]
Spring came and went, but we’re not here to judge if you didn’t get around to cleaning up your living space. After all, taking the time to vacuum your floors can stretch out into a lengthy task when you’re constantly switching between power outlets and trying to jam your machine into those tight corners. With […]
Projects big and small always go smoother when the whole team is collaborating, but members tend to get lost once the conference call ends. Timelinr is a project management solution that helps keep your stakeholders, team, and clients in the loop with high-level project roadmaps and granular task boards. Subscriptions are available today for $49.99. […]