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Encryption Crime United States

Use of Encryption Foiled the Cops a Record 9 Times In 2013 115

Posted by timothy
from the achievement-unlocked dept.
realized (2472730) writes "In nine cases in 2013, state police were unable to break the encryption used by criminal suspects they were investigating, according to an annual report on law enforcement eavesdropping released by the U.S. court system on Wednesday. That's more than twice as many cases as in 2012, when police said that they'd been stymied by crypto in four cases—and that was the first year they'd ever reported encryption preventing them from successfully surveilling a criminal suspect. Before then, the number stood at zero."
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Use of Encryption Foiled the Cops a Record 9 Times In 2013

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  • I smell a rat. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @04:32PM (#47379507)

    There are obviously thousands of people using encryption because they have a legitimate reason to hide something, and criminals also have something to hide, so it stands to reason that they'd also use encryption.

    So why aren't there more cases of encryption impeding an investigation? Possibilities:

    1) Only stupid people (who don't use encryption) are caught - yeah, not with numbers /that/ low;

    2) The numbers are being deliberately under-reported;

    3) A lot of encryption is breakable or has backdoors;

    4) Most people under investigation have software planted on computers or hardware keyloggers.

  • Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @04:40PM (#47379561) Journal

    Public opinion needs to be turned against anything (such as the bill of rights) that could hinder the authorities.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @04:48PM (#47379609)

    I just reviewed the last four days of Slashdot, and found only two articles that interested me enough to click through. I must be getting old. Or maybe Slashdot has changed.

  • Re:I smell a rat. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JimFive (1064958) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @04:50PM (#47379627)
    You forgot:

    5) Most crimes leave evidence that is not on the criminal's computer.
  • Re:I smell a rat. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @04:54PM (#47379659)

    that oblig xkcd comic about a heavy wrench defeating encryption is more likely.
    "we'll drop the sentence to 1 year in prison if you give us the keys, or you can fight us, and we'll go for 25 to life."

    (protip: the wrench can be a metaphor)

  • Re:I smell a rat. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @05:32PM (#47379877)

    >
    > have a legitimate reason to hide something
    >

    A person does not ever require a "legitimate reason" to use encryption. A person can transmit information in any way he may see fit or in any way he may simply desire without needing a reason or explanation.

    If I want to strongly encrypt a cooking recipe that I email to my grandmother, then it is my business and my business alone.

    The point is that criminal intent or any other intent cannot/should not be inferred solely from the act of encryption.

  • ItsATrap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:12PM (#47380115)

    With 90% confidence; I estimate this is a trap. Police can defeat encryption, no problem, usually by coercing the defendant. The reports by the police themselves are geared at getting tougher anti-privacy/anti-encryption legislation and giving bad guys a false sense of security. The feds could likely have broken the encryption, no problem, the issue at hand just wasn't important enough to reveal the capability. Pretending not to have the capability gives politicians better ammunition when improving state powers for legal surveillance, and for forcing the hands of software providers to secretly include specified backdoor tech.

    when police said that they’d been stymied by crypto in four cases—and that was the first year they’d ever reported encryption preventing them from successfully surveilling a criminal suspect. Before then, the number stood at zero.

  • Re:I smell a rat. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:30PM (#47380237) Journal

    > 6) The encrypted cellphone is thrown into the evidence bag and never looked at again because the arresting officer couldn't get it open.

    Beat me to it. I'd put it more generally as "the police were stymied by encryption 2,316 times last year, but only recognized the fact nine times".

  • Re:I smell a rat. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Thursday July 03, 2014 @06:51PM (#47380347)

    "It's not about having that kind of leverage. In an interrogation, a cop is not required to tell you the truth. Never forget that."

    It doesn't matter what the cop says, YOU have to shut your mouth.
    Don't talk to the police, ever!
    It can only hurt you.

  • Re:I smell a rat. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:15AM (#47382455)
    Your "burn safe" is vulnerable to denial of service. Say you lose the key, or the keypad is damaged; How do you get your documents? What if someone just hits it with a hammer until the system is activated, just to piss you off?

Good salesmen and good repairmen will never go hungry. -- R.E. Schenk

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