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Top FBI Attorney Worried About WhatsApp Encryption (usnews.com) 182

An anonymous reader shares an article on USNews:WhatsApp on Tuesday announced that all types of messages on the latest version of its app are now automatically protected by end-to-end encryption, and the FBI's top attorney is worried some of the platform's more than 1 billion global users will take advantage of the move to hide their crime- or terrorism-related communications. FBI General Counsel James Baker said in Washington on Tuesday that the decision by the Facebook-owned messaging platform to encrypt its global offerings "presents us with a significant problem" because criminals and terrorists could "get ideas." "If the public does nothing, encryption like that will continue to roll out," he said. "It has public safety costs. Folks have to understand that, and figure out how they are going to deal with that. Do they want the public to bear those costs? Do they want the victims of terrorism to bear those costs?"Maybe the government shouldn't have imposed so many surveillance programs on its citizens -- and kept quiet about it for years -- that they now feel the need to use sophisticated security technologies.
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Top FBI Attorney Worried About WhatsApp Encryption

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  • Fuck him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:32PM (#51855243)

    Good. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

    • Re:Fuck him (Score:5, Funny)

      by rhazz ( 2853871 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:36PM (#51855295)
      FBI: If the public does nothing, encryption like that will continue to roll out.

      Public: Ok.
    • Re:Fuck him (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Megol ( 3135005 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:40PM (#51855339)

      But he is correct? There _are_ costs, potentially involving people being killed. To me (and I assume you) those costs are worth it. So do your work and try to convince people that exposing communication to criminals and government isn't worth the minimal extra dangers!

      • by Megol ( 3135005 )

        ^ should of course be "... isn't worth the minimal extra security!". Bah!

      • Re:Fuck him (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:47PM (#51855409) Journal

        Freedom always has a price. Compared to our ancestors, even with encryption, the cost of freedom is pretty fucking cheap these days.

        • Re:Fuck him (Score:5, Informative)

          by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:14PM (#51855653)

          The country exists because some people thought preserving freedom was more valuable than preserving their own lives.

          • The country exists because some people thought preserving freedom was more valuable than preserving their own lives.

            Fewer than you might think.

          • Not only that, the Jefferson Disk [wikipedia.org] shows that at least one of them was way ahead of his time in terms of encryption. I think he knew exactly what he was doing with respect to the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution and encryption.
          • by houghi ( 78078 )

            ANY country exists because some people thought something was more valuable than preserving their own lives.

            Well, except Belgium I guess.That was put in between The Netherlands and France as a joke or punishment or some other random reason. (Disclaimer I live there and it is a great place with great beer and great people.)

        • Re:Fuck him (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:51PM (#51855943)

          I am completely willing to bear these risks and costs. It is my cost for freedom, I know that, *history* knows that, and I will bear them.
          If some fucknut strafes the local shopping mall while my daughter is there and she's killed, that is my cost for her and everyone else to be able to live a life without ID and to go have fun at malls and all sorts of things in life.
          That's my cost and I'll pay it gladly.

          And while I'm at it, we should have rebuilt the WTC towers exactly as they were before to send a big FUCK YOU to them.
          But *no* we got a bunch of fucking tears and memorials and FUD and PATRIOT ACT.

          Fuck all these governments trying to take our freedom.
          Fuck em all.

          Be Brave, not sheep.

          • by LQ ( 188043 )

            I am completely willing to bear these risks and costs. It is my cost for freedom, I know that, *history* knows that, and I will bear them. If some fucknut strafes the local shopping mall while my daughter is there and she's killed, that is my cost for her and everyone else to be able to live a life without ID and to go have fun at malls and all sorts of things in life.

            Statistically in the USA that shooter would most likely to be acting alone and no amount of snooping would stop him. (But that's a whole different discussion).

        • Re:Fuck him (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @05:17PM (#51856553)

          Quote:

          The price for having freedom and presumption of innocence is the fact that guilty men may roam free and evil men may do harm before they can be stopped.

          But if stopping them means risking the loss of freedom and the punishment of the innocent, then tolerating such men is the cost that we must accept for all the treasures a free society offers.
          A saboteur, terrorist, or criminal can only destroy objects and harm lives.

          But they are incapable of touching the foundation on which that freedom is founded.
          Only our fear and paranoia can do that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, of course freedom always has costs. It has the cost of not devolving into a police state dictatorship.

      • Re:Fuck him (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sigma 7 ( 266129 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:01PM (#51855541)

        But he is correct? There _are_ costs, potentially involving people being killed.

        Eliminating encryption won't handle:

        • A lone wolf.
        • Communications that aren't across phone lines or the internet (e.g. Sneaker net).
        • Communications from burner phones that appear innocous (e.g. asking friends to meet up at certain galleries/malls/etc), but are actually targetting data.
        • Letters, especially if they aren't immediatly suspicious.
        • Open broadcasts, calls to action.

        There's no real cost to allowing encryption, as criminals can easily find alternate methods that don't require encryption.

        • Communications from burner phones that appear innocous

          Which is why they now want to ban 'burner phones' by making the vendor take your details plus the phone's ID...

          • Which is why they now want to ban 'burner phones' by making the vendor take your details plus the phone's ID...

            This, in a country where fraudulent ID is rampant amongst the late teenage to early-20s population who want to get a drink. If you add another million ID checks daily to the daily work load of millions of ID checks carried out in a sloppy, slapdash, incompetent and uncaring manner by unmotivated people ... then you create another million opportunities for slapdash incompetent and uncaring ID checks

      • There are costs in communication not being encrypted. And the public have decided they're happy not being spied on as WhatsApp has a billion users and I don't see any of them uninstalling it now in disgust.

      • Re:Fuck him (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:09PM (#51855605) Journal

        The thing is he isn't correct there really are not costs, at least not in terms of prevention. As far as the after action investigation goes maybe but those don't bring back the dead anyway.

        All the really actionable intelligence comes from what the three letters have already defined as metadata. Its who is calling and messaging who not what they are saying. Even the NSA does not really have the computing power or resources to consume the content of every ordinary WhatsApp user. This is facebook remember, their entire business model is based around social graph theory too. Encryption might be part of a system that protects that sort of information but it won't do it without some serious design and engineering. Since FB of all organizations would not actually want to make that information secure, its a safe bet its perfectly easy to tell how often and to whom an user sends messages, even if they can't be read.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But he is correct? There _are_ costs, potentially involving people being killed. To me (and I assume you) those costs are worth it. So do your work and try to convince people that exposing communication to criminals and government isn't worth the minimal extra dangers!

        He's absolutely correct that there are costs.

        The cost of living in societies that do not afford their citizens a right to privacy tends to be pretty high. As in, tens of millions of dead per year if you count Stalin's NKVD, Hitler's Gestap

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There has yet to be an attack that was planned with encryption. There has yet to be an attack that has been thwarted ahead of time. If there is and I haven't heard about it, the FBI needs to start bringing attention to it. Otherwise, the FBI is acting completely unreasonably. As in, with no fucking reason at all.

      • by SumDog ( 466607 )

        Really? We have had this form of encryption for decades.

        When you look at terrorism in general, the majority of it is State sponsored ... with those States being America, the UK and EU members.

      • Government oppression is just as dangerous (and can result in the death of millions of people).

        Terrorist attacks become cheaper and potentially deadlier with each passing year.

        At some point, something's going to give. It's likely to be group guilt by association (as in WW2).

        I'm still for strong encryption now.

        Call me back when we lose a city tho.

      • He's incorrect in assuming that anything can be done to stop people from using math. Whatsapp is *just* an app, and anyone can write an app that implements this functionality. That means it's impossible to prevent bad elements (terrorists, criminals, whoever the FBI feels like investigating) from using encryption.

        Besides, encryption isn't necessarily required for terrorist attacks. The Paris attackers used burner phones, and I doubt the IRA ever used encryption during the Troubles.
      • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 )

        But he is correct? There _are_ costs, potentially involving people being killed.

        Except that in the real world terrorists use throw-away devices instead of relying on encryption.

    • by eam ( 192101 )

      Of course, if he has managed to find a way to roll back time and uncreate things, we should probably work on uncreating nuclear weapons. Once we've done that, we can uncreate a bunch of other things, and perhaps encryption might become one of those, but I doubt it.

      Wouldn't it be better to uncreate all crime? I mean, as long as we are going to start implementing impossible solutions to problems, we should aim high.

    • Hey, what's your beef against the horse?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let Freedom Ring, bitches.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Come on really? That is the lamest and tired argument around. It is in the publics interest to maintain some semblance of privacy at all cost, especially in what is quickly becoming a police state.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So what if communication gets encrypted? App still runs on Android device.

  • Maybe they will have to get off their collective asses and actually file for proper warrants and do some proper investigative work instead of it being spoon fed on a silver platter. The humanity!
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:41PM (#51855345) Homepage

    and the FBI's top attorney is worried some of the platform's more than 1 billion global users will take advantage of the move to hide their crime- or terrorism-related communications

    The problem is user may attempt to take advantage of the move to hide their perfectly legal and private endeavors which in no way break the law.

    As usual, FBI General Counsel James Baker and his kind are outright lying, and asserting you do not have a legal right to do things anonymously or without your government knowing, and that many of those people don't give a fuck what the FBI wants because our rights are not defined by assholes who feel we should have no right to privacy if it impedes the ability of government spy on us.

    Why, FBI General Counsel James Baker and his entire family need to be sure their entire lives are made public so that we can be assured he is not misusing his office to conduct illegal business.

    The short version of this is: too fucking bad, there are legally valid reasons to have encryption, the world isn't subject to this asshole's definition of "valid", and he doesn't get to decide without oversight or process that he is entitled to any of this data.

    But like all these modern fascists, he wants the right to see everything we do, and then decide if it's legal.

    Fuck that. I think the entire rest of the world should start using real, hardened encryption the US has no access, and send a big "fuck off" and say it's none of your damned business.

    Stop pretending that undermining our rights is necessary to protect our rights. Because that's a fucking lie.

    • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:24PM (#51855735)

      All of these people holding positions of power demanding access to everything we do all the time need to be the first to make their everything open to us. Strangely they won't do that, and go to great lengths to prevent us from knowing anything about their activities even though we write their paycheck.

      This demand should extend beyond Government officials and to people like Gates, Schmidt, and others in the private sector that make the same arguments and demands that "we" be transparent while "they" hide information and hoard wealth.

    • Stop pretending that undermining our rights is necessary to protect our rights. Because that's a fucking lie.

      "We had to destroy your freedom in order to save it."

  • Hey, it was so easy to spy on everyone for any reason, and whaaaa.... now you've made that difficult. Cry baby, cry....

    I really wish the FBI would just get over it - strong encryption is necessary for people to maintain any sense of freedom whatsoever as without privacy there is no freedom.
    • I wish they would stop trying to play James Bond and start promoting better security to reduce those 15 million identity thefts a year.

      • Or, you know, stop invading and bombing and coup-staging other countries then acting all surprised when the people who live there get pissed.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:44PM (#51855373)

    If the public does nothing, encryption like that will continue to roll out

    Finally for once the power of the uncaring and slack public will actually result in something good.

  • OH SHIT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:45PM (#51855381)

    PEOPLE MIGHT GET IDEAS GUYS.

    Terrorism! 9/11! Public safety!

    If I ever die in a terrorist attack and they use my death as more leverage to remove encryption and install back doors, please insert the brain of my deceased corpse into a robot so I can ROFLstomp them.

    I would prefer something with opposable thumbs, but a quadcopter with sharpened blades would work fine too.

    Alternatively, tell them to shut the fuck up and stop using my body to push their political agenda. Otherwise I will haunt them.

    Nothing but upside down USB plugs and BSoD's will come to them if they continue. It would be an abstract kind of hell.

  • Are we living in this world again?
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/... [rottentomatoes.com]
    Were we ever not living in that world?

  • by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:52PM (#51855465) Homepage

    "Oh noes, we are totally worried about WhatsApp's completely closed-source alleged implementation of encryption that was totally didn't have back-doored from the outset! I sure hope the bad guys don't use it, or we'll be in a world of hurt! The criminals and terri'rsts have already won!"

    0/0, FBI.

  • The more of the people's communications the government (and LEOs they control) can't read, the better.

    Nice to see people fighting back against the police state. Let's hope this is only the first of many steps to curtail government's power.

    • you are thinking we are making progress?

      how can you know?

      seriously. you have words from talking bobbing heads. some on 'our' side, some on theirs.

      have you seen source code? chip x-rays? design docs? audited the whole system, have you?

      very possible (likely, even) that this is false flag info intended to let people think that encryption, as it is today, is 'unbreakable'.

      it serves lots of peoples' needs to have the population believe that.

      I don't believe it. but I can't prove a damned thing, other than n

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @02:59PM (#51855519)
    I know people who are Pakistani. I know people who have family in Libya. With all the Syrians moving to my area, I suspect that I will soon know a Syrian. What scares the crap out of me is that just through the classic six degrees of separation they will be "in contact" with an associate of a known terrorist. This then puts me in contact with someone in contact with an associate of a known terrorist. Then some poorly written ML algorithm will see that I have this situation but through to two separate terrorist organizations. Then boom, I have somehow become one of the strongest links connecting the three. Basically a Canadian terrorist nexus. Add to that that I have visited LiveLeak where terrorist videos regularly get posted, and suddenly I am being pulled aside at airports, or cops have a big red blinking light show up on their computer when they pull me over for running a stop sign, and come out all guns drawn.

    It is not only the invasion of privacy that worries me but the complete and certified morons who then interpret this data.

    I just think of the hard partying British couple who's tweet, "I'm going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe" got them arrested for planning to commit crimes. Context you stupid morons.

    Plus in 99% of this sort of stuff the only advantage is to find out that terrorist A who blew himself to bits was actually in contact with terrorist B who blew himself to bits. It doesn't prevent squat, it just makes the paper pushers happy to have a better trail to confirm whatever obvious facts they started with.

    Here is the horrible thing about all this. Everyone knows exactly which country on this planet funds the bulk of modern ISIS terrorism. Officials won't say it, and they certainly won't do anything about it. So instead they just want to rape our rights to prove that they are doing something.
    • Here is the horrible thing about all this. Everyone knows exactly which country on this planet funds the bulk of modern ISIS terrorism. Officials won't say it, and they certainly won't do anything about it. So instead they just want to rape our rights to prove that they are doing something.

      I'm not sure I know which country it is. Let me guess, the big bad US of A! Am I Right?!?

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The US is approaching the East Germany issue of having its own best and brightest undercover law enforcement operations watching its own state, city and security service operations and taking a long time to understand its been following its own at very different gov levels.
      So many different teams from the mil, FBI, CIA, NSA down to state, city are using undercover teams, ex mil, contractors, turned prisoners that that are spying on each others cover stories in real time.
      Very few have the skill or top clea
  • Is he also concerned with widespread ownership of assault weapons? Is he doing anything about those who lose their lives in car accidents, drown in their bath tub, or for that matter are killed by FBI agents who improperly assess the situation. "If the public does nothing, (stuff) like that will continue to roll out," "It has public safety costs. Folks have to understand that, and figure out how they are going to deal with that. Do they want the public to bear those costs? Do they want the victims (of the
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:02PM (#51855555) Journal

    It is the pervasive nature of this growing panopticon, driven by cries of the need for extraordinary power because terrorists!, followed by immediate re-use (i.e. you lied) for normal, if disturbing, crimes of drug sales and kiddie porn. Plain ol' crime investigation follows immediately. Well, probably not even follows. Coincidental with.

    Why? Gross lies and fraud here. No, we deny you the panopticon, especially your sloppy, sloppy implementation with little tracking of use -- remember LOVEINT where agents track people their hearts throb for? What if an agent spies on a political opponent for their political boss?

    You have no way to track this, and thus review it by elected officials. Yet this is the primary concern the Founding Fathers had in the Bill of Rights, to prevent the Right of Kings to go mucking around in the affairs of their political rivals and other uppity folks who might challenge their power.

  • by Bugler412 ( 2610815 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:05PM (#51855577)
    I am distinctly not a lawyer, but is there merit to this thought? The entire legal basis of the "third party doctrine", with which enforcement types can grab your data from a company you do business with basically on demand (or with very easy to get approval), depends on your having "no reasonable expectation of privacy. Well, if I end to end encrypt all communications and stored data in such a way that the storing company does not hold the key, only I do, then I DO now have a reasonable expectation of privacy and the entire third party doctrine collapses legally. I'm VERY certain that it would take an army of attorneys and lots of $$$ and patience to push this idea through the courts, and likely a legal issue with which to establish "standing" to pursue the issue, but thoughts? Is there merit to this line of thinking?
    • by Agripa ( 139780 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @11:36PM (#51858137)

      Well, if I end to end encrypt all communications and stored data in such a way that the storing company does not hold the key, only I do, then I DO now have a reasonable expectation of privacy and the entire third party doctrine collapses legally.

      No, encryption does not create an expectation of privacy:

      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pa... [ssrn.com]

      Does encrypting Internet communications create a reasonable expectation of privacy in their contents, triggering Fourth Amendment protection? At first blush, it seems that the answer must be yes: A reasonable person would surely expect that encrypted communications will remain private. In this paper, Professor Kerr explains why this intuitive answer is entirely wrong: Encrypting communications cannot create a reasonable expectation of privacy. The reason is that the Fourth Amendment regulates access, not understanding: no matter how unlikely it is that the government will successfully decrypt ciphertext, the Fourth Amendment offers no protection if it succeeds. As a result, the government does not need a search warrant to decrypt encrypted communications. This surprising result is consistent with Fourth Amendment caselaw: it matches how courts have resolved cases involving the reassembly of shredded documents, recovery of deleted files, and the translation of foreign languages. The Fourth Amendment may regulate government access to ciphertext, but it does not regulate government efforts to translate ciphertext into plaintext.

      • Ok, fair. thanks! They can have all the blocks of ciphertext that they care to consume I guess.
  • Instead of just having the NSA spy on everything, the shit for brains at the FBI might have to get off their asses, stop whining constantly to congress, and do some real police work for once.

  • Sheesh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by s13g3 ( 110658 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:10PM (#51855623) Journal
    The amount of baseless FUD the FBI and government pumps out continues to be nothing short of astonishing when considered that it's in the face of overwhelming evidence they're wrong on so many levels.

    Because, you know, it's not as if they couldn't just use one-time pads to transmit in the clear over Twitter, or basic steganographic techniques to communicate messages with pictures of cats...

    Oh wait... that's probably exactly what they're doing. But that would be inconvenient to the line of bullshit they're trying to sell us. Because it's not as if trying to catch terrorists by spying on the communications of all Americans (and citizens of other nations) is a violation of the Constitution or anything...
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      If I were to message bad things, I would post to news:alt.binaries.pictures.wal... [binaries.p....wallpaper] (which I do) or any other group. I would use steganography or any other way. e.g. if I post a picture of a car, it could mean the same as 'Jean has a large moustache'. There are many more groups where you can post whatever you desire.

      The advantage of Usenet, as I pointed out in the past, is that there is no direct connection between poster and reader. What I post is distributed to servers atht bring it to other servers.

      I do n

    • Because, you know, it's not as if they couldn't just use one-time pads to transmit in the clear over Twitter

      Am I doing it right? https://twitter.com/1timepadhe... [twitter.com]

  • Back in 1987, the late SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia said, "There is nothing new in the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of us all." http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03... [nytimes.com] In today's world, he'd probably go on to say that decisions on privacy should not be decided by SCOTUS, but rather it should be up to the Legislative branch since the US Constitution doesn't ever mention the word privacy. It's a very frustrating world we live in.
  • by neiras ( 723124 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:14PM (#51855659)

    > Maybe the government shouldn't have imposed so many surveillance programs on its citizens -- and kept quiet about it for years -- that they now feel the need to use sophisticated security technologies.

    Let's get off the "fuck the man" train for a second and look at this rationally.

    • If WhatsApp were compelled to push a version of their app with unencrypted ow weakly-encrypted local message storage, you'd never know.
    • If Apple or Google were compelled to push a signed OS update that exposed WhatsApp to a local attack (after all, messages must be decrypted on your device for you to read it), you'd never know.
    • If someone were to compromise Apple/Google's SSL certificates, man in the middle your Whatsapp download, and wrap it in a keylogger, you'd never know.
    • If the your mobile provider pushed a radio baseband update that invisibly read your Whatsapp keys from memory (yes, many basebands can read and write device RAM directly from outside of OS land), you'd never know.

    I am really happy that people are waking up to the necessity of encryption. But end-to-end encryption relies on a secured local endpoints, and all we have are devices that are 100% owned by the corporations we rent them from.

    That phone in your hand is not yours. It's a hostile environment for hostile apps.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:14PM (#51855661)

    I don't understand why ROOMS are tolerated so widely. People go in a ROOM, they close the fucking door to the ROOM and they speak softly and I can't hear a damn thing they say. People have been using all these ROOMS to have private conversations for years. I bet nearly every damn crime this year has been planned in a ROOM of some kind. This ROOM tech must be stopped!!!! Criminals might get ideas! Imagine that! They can talk in private in a room and we can't do anything about it!!! The madness must stop!!!!

  • and 99% for a legitimate way to keep things private. Gov action: Let's make it illegal.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:18PM (#51855687) Homepage Journal

    Still true today.

    Will this create problems when trying to root out bad actors? Sure!

    The thing is, there's no such thing as perfect safety. No matter how hard law enforcement agencies try.

    So, the American public can grow a pair, and realize that the government CANNOT protect them in all situations.
    They can then choose whether or not they will act with more circumspection and awareness of the dangers inherent in their surroundings.
    And they'll accept the fact that sometimes bad things happen regardless of how much effort was put into prevention.

    Or we can simply have ever-greater encroachment on people's liberties.
    And bad shit will CONTINUE to happen, regardless of how much effort is put into prevention.

    So we have a choice:

    * Liberty and danger?

    OR

    * Tyranny and danger?

    PICK ONE!

    • Will this create problems when trying to root out bad actors? Sure!

      The thing is, there's no such thing as perfect safety.

      Yes, there is.

      They have it in North Korea.

  • This rhetoric got stupid out of control a long time ago. Except wait... this isn't just persuasive speaking, not when you consider where it is coming from, and by no means just this one instance. This sort of speech is coming from people who have power whether directly or indirectly. This is whining. Whining against a population that has almost but not quite in its totality told the spoiled child no. But we are not the parents, we should be but we aren't. This whining, regardless of the direction it appears
  • Level of Risk (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:28PM (#51855771) Homepage

    The FBI attorney is (purposefully?) confusing possible and probable as well as level of risk. Is it possible that terrorists will see WhatsApp's encryption, flock there, and plot a huge attack resulting in many deaths unseen by law enforcement? Certainly. It is also possible that the terrorists will wake up tomorrow morning realizing that this whole "kill everyone different than us" thing is idiotic, will drop their weapons, and take up a less destructive hobby. Both are possible, but are also not very probable. The recent attacks have been planned using SMS and other unencrypted communication methods. If law enforcement can't catch them when they're not encrypting, why go through the bother of deploying encryption?

    As far as of level risk goes, there were 32,727 deaths due to terrorism worldwide in 2014 (Source [statista.com]). Even adding all terrorism deaths together since 2006 gives 161,834. Remember, this is worldwide. If we wanted to limit this to US deaths from terrorism, we'd get 303 American deaths from 2004-2014 (Source [politifact.com]). In contrast, 2014 had 17.6 million identity theft victims in the US alone. (Source [bjs.gov])

    This all means that you have almost a 639,000 times greater risk of being an identity theft victim than a terrorism victim. Granted, I doubt many people are going to use WhatsApp to share information that could be used in identity theft, but this isn't the FBI vs. WhatsApp any more than it was just the FBI vs. Apple. It's the FBI vs Encryption. They want to see encryption either go away or be backdoored so they can get in at any time. Unfortunately, if this were to happen, a lot more people would find themselves vulnerable to various scams and the number of terrorists captured would be at or near zero.

    This isn't even "trading liberty for security" as much as it is "trading security for some nebulous promise of possible security later on."

  • I've got an idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djent ( 4267865 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:33PM (#51855811)

    Get this paranoid nut case of out of any authoritative place in government. Maybe a window at the DMV where he can do only do minimal damage. This helps to stop the alphabets from doing an all out colostomy on every Joe Average that tweaks his interest. The upside for him is that now they have an easier time hiding their home grown terrorist operations. Thats the way life works, it rains and the sun comes out, get over yourself, there is a life beyond paranoia. Remember it was chicken little that was running around in circles screaming the sky is falling. Hollering I told you so at each and every one of life's aberrations no longer resonates with the public, its just more white noise.

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @03:47PM (#51855925) Homepage

    Folks have to understand that, and figure out how they are going to deal with that. Do they want the public to bear those costs? Do they want the victims of terrorism to bear those costs?"

    I just did some googling. Apparently the number of people who die by terrorism from now back to 2001 is absolutely dwarfed by the number of people who day every year from automobile accidents, mostly caused by allowing cars to be driven by error prone, inferior, humans.

    Maybe a better use of our tax dollars would be a new 'Manhattan Project' or "Moon Shot' project. Replace the 'War On Terror' with a real 'War On Human Driven Cars'. Self driving cars for everyone. That would save vastly more lives than would ever be saved by allowing the FBI snoops to break into every phone, any where, any time, and without any kind of supervision. That is what this is really about.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      Folks have to understand that, and figure out how they are going to deal with that. Do they want the public to bear those costs? Do they want the victims of terrorism to bear those costs?"

      I just did some googling. Apparently the number of people who die by terrorism from now back to 2001 is absolutely dwarfed by the number of people who day every year from automobile accidents, mostly caused by allowing cars to be driven by error prone, inferior, humans.

      Anyone who thinks terrorism is a serious threat is just plain fucking stupid. You're orders of magnitude more likely to be murdered by some random jackass than you are to be killed by a terrorist.

      Seven of the top ten serious threats to American lives are diseases, with heart disease killing over a million of us a year. Then we have suicides and car accidents killing tens of thousands a year. I'm orders of magnitudes more likely to die tripping and falling down my stairs than to die from a terrorist attack.

      A

  • If one billion WhatsApp users are using the app to hide their terrorist or criminal activities, then the FBI is right to be worried. I would be worried as well.
  • by AutodidactLabrat ( 3506801 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2016 @04:22PM (#51856147)
    Everyone needs end-to-end encryption, unbreakable, backdoor proof encryption faced with the FBI
    that spent 41 agents FOUR YEARS of hunting down something useful to Kenneth Starr
    And 12 years looking for anything that would silence or intimidate Martin Luther King
    And 18 agents hunting down Nixon's Enemies list
    And at least 5 years chasing reporter's notebooks and phone calls to silence whistleblowers
    And the 8 years hunting Julian Assange for the "crime" of showing the deliberate murder of Journalists in Iraq.

    Our liberty REQUIRES secrecy from these people.
    Our safety can't be guaranteed by giving up our freedom.
  • In fact, a lot of the recent FBI announcements seem much too convenient.

    You are telling me that a spokesman for a spy agency is publicizing to both criminals and non-criminals alike an effective method to make it harder for them to catch criminals, knowing full well that the non-criminals either don't care very much or will side against him if they do care (and understand)?

    The end result being ciminals knowing how to hide or non-criminals learning what is important and then turning against him.

    Something is

  • So many people in the financial industry should have gone to jail for all the shit that went on during the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. Yet here the FBI is worried about whether our dick picks are encrypted or not.
  • FBI's top attorney is worried some of the platform's more than 1 billion global users will take advantage of the move to hide their crime- or terrorism-related communications.

    How many times has that happened so far now?
  • I don't wear a tinfoil hat, but in reading all of the comments that effectively say, "Good! They shouldn't have access to my data! F-Off!" it highlights an assumption:
    it seems that a lot of people are assuming that, because the government is asking for companies to disallow the encryption, it is because they can't break it (and are being defeated by it).
    However, it could be a clever lie. What if in publishing this type of rhetoric they're hiding the fact that they can do something about encrypted communicat

    • If the company that makes the software running on your phone is willing to backdoor the phone, then the security of the apps is not an issue. If the company that makes the baseband for your phone is willing to backdoor the phone, then the security of the apps is not an issue. If the company that makes the integrated circuits for your phone is willing to backdoor the phone, then the security of the apps is not an issue.
  • So what if criminals use encryption? Criminals will always meet in secret (remotely or in person) and discuss issues privately. 'Back in the day' criminals didn't discuss sensitive matters over the phone in case it was bugged, the same thing will happen with any unsecured communication channel.

    Eliminate or compromise encryption and the same thing will happen, either they won't use that channel of communication or they will use code phrases (pad cypher).

    Regardless the cops will have to do what the cops are s

  • This is posturing at best, utter ignorance at worst. Telegram, for example, is already the terrorist messaging program of choice. It has had end to end encryption since inception, which has to be at least a couple years by now. You'd think he'd know that.
  • "It has public safety costs. Folks have to understand that, and figure out how they are going to deal with that. Do they want the public to bear those costs? Do they want the victims of terrorism to bear those costs?"

    Those 'costs' are fucking trivial in the grand scheme. So, yes.

  • FTA: James Bakers says, "If the public does nothing, encryption like that will continue to roll out," he said. "It has public safety costs. Folks have to understand that, and figure out how they are going to deal with that. Do they want the public to bear those costs? Do they want the victims of terrorism to bear those costs?"

    Fuck you James Baker.

    Fuck you FBI.

    Get the CIA to stop knocking over the Governments of Sovereign Nations, and we will not have a terrorism problem.

    9 of the top 10 terrorist acts in th

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