back to article Sorry, we haven't ACLU what happened in sealed 'Facebook decryption' case, but let's find out

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a motion to find out what went on in a court case in which the US Department of Justice allegedly tried to make Facebook give it unencrypted access to Messenger calls. Thumb down to Facebook Facebook Messenger backdoor demand, bail in Bitcoin, and lots more READ MORE Claims …

  1. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Haven't ACLU?

    Samantha has to nip off early now, as she's meeting Bob, a retired spook, as part of her research for a new book on cryptography and public policy. He likes to take her through the backdoors, and then with the help of Samantha's friend Alice they will explore a Man-in-the-Middle compromise.

    (With apologies to Messrs Lyttleton and Nasmith.)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] and then with the help of Samantha's friend Alice they will explore a Man-in-the-Middle compromise."

    Names and gender pronouns are not guaranteed to denote physical sex characteristics. Someone once asked me why were some connectors denoted "male" or "female" - and how to tell which was which.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That used to work, but then I discovered transgender connectors with both pins and sockets.

  4. A K Stiles Silver badge

    sounds more hermaphrodite than trans...

  5. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    When it came to Token ring Type 1 connectors I heard them referred to as asexual

  6. GnuTzu Bronze badge

    Gendered Connectors

    "Someone once asked me why were some connectors denoted "male" or "female""

    I do wonder about how this came to be the dominant language, given that the terms "plug" and "socket" go back at least as far. And, while I'm not the biggest proponent of political correctness, I am concerned that with the proliferation of technology, this will come to affect children at younger and younger ages. "Mommy, why is this thing that I stick into that thing called male and that other one female?"

  7. tfb Silver badge

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    Plug and socket and male & female are orthogonal: there are female plugs: a kettle plug is female (pins go into holes in the plug) but it's a plug, not a socket: the thing on the kettle is the socket.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    cause one goes into the other. Just like mommy and daddy. Daddy transferred data to mommy and mommy assembled his data and her own to make you. Now go play in the yard, and don't play with anyone else's connectors.

  9. #define INFINITY -1

    @tfb Re: Gendered Connectors

    Interesting point, and not universally accepted. But extrapolating from this, we could say the 'active' connector (involving spring loading) is female; this definition makes identification of USB 'sex' quite simple. If the spring is just there to hold the plug (ground connection) then the socket is still male.

    Earth pins (in the socket) are just weird--anyone care to hypothesise (or explain) why they were invented?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    Perhaps this is a country-by-country thing. In the UK "The One with the Pins is the Plug" (as the notice at the Physics department stores used to say). A quick look at IEC leads on RS, as a close proxy for kettle leads, suggests this wasn't specific to the department. Panel-mounted plugs/sockets are available, as are lead-mounted sockets and plugs. Many are also marked as male/female too.

    So the kettle lead has a lead-mounted socket, which connects with a panel-mounted plug fitted to the kettle.

    Of course the usage by the general public may be different...

  11. Mike 16 Bronze badge

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    -- "Mommy, why is this thing that I stick into that thing called male and that other one female?"

    A friend had that epiphany (about M and F connection terminology) while doing a talk on amateur radio to grade 9 students at a RC seminary. Gave him pause, it did.

    And yes, IBM used ambisexuous connectors (they called them hermaphroditic) on I/O cables for System 360. It makes a lot of sense when you are snaking 50 feet of cable under the floor and want to avoid the "Oops, got the wrong end of the cable" problem.

  12. overunder

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    What if the PC world spun backwards a day.

    Could you ponder over two people in your server room grunting "no, just grab that dick and stick it in that pussy... no not that one, the one behind it".

    Could women and men maybe find more common ground when using restrooms labeled "erratic" and "stubborn".

    Would Microsoft, Google, Apple etc... open conventions with "Listen up suckers...".

    PC backwards day could go overboard, but the truth is... not really the truth anymore.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    "Now go play in the yard, and don't play with anyone else's connectors."

    A man is complaining to his neighbour - "Your son has been peeing in the snow"

    "How do you know it is him"

    "He wrote his name"

    "Boys will be boys - why the concern?"

    "It's my daughter's handwriting"

  14. wayne 8

    gender benders

    We called them gender benders.

    What if a connector feels that it is a different gender than as manufactured?

    Can't just swap pins for holes without changing the wiring.

  15. The Nazz Silver badge

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    Little girl runs inside crying to mummy.

    "What's the matter darling?"

    "Little Johnny has just dropped his trousers, shown me a sticky out thing he calls a willy and teases me that i haven't got one."

    "Aw bless" says mum, and dropping her skirt adds "i haven't got one either, but the thing to remember is that as long as you have one of these you can get as many of those as you want."

  16. The Nazz Silver badge

    Re: Gendered Connectors

    re AC and handwriting :

    For everyone's amusement : "Snowbanks of Life."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gZK4BaY4G8

  17. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Re: gender benders

    Can't just swap pins for holes without changing the wiring

    You can on a coaxial connector.

  18. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Re: @tfb Gendered Connectors

    Earth pins (in the socket) are just weird--anyone care to hypothesise (or explain) why they were invented?

    No idea, but two thoughts are:

    1) It was an after-thought added to an existing design when folk realised how much safer earthed systems are.

    2) It prevented the mating of a non-earthed plug to force upgrading to match the infrastructure (where as a 3rd hole would not).

  19. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Possibly inspired by the USB C connector - the other day I found on sale a patented Micro USB charging cable whose plug goes both ways - if you plug it "upside down" it still fits and works. For power, anyway.

    Whereas most USB connectors don't work -until- you turn it upside down to insert the wrong way, then the right way.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @tfb Gendered Connectors

    " It was an after-thought added to an existing design when folk realised how much safer earthed systems are.

    The power connectors with a thin steel strip for an earth connector look rather inadequate when compared to the UK solid brass pin on a 13A plug.

  21. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Problem solved

    The DoJ could have just asked Assange to get Putin to give them access.

  22. g00se2

    along with the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and Stanford Law School's Riana Pfefferkorn (acting in her personal capacity)

    ... as - what? A condiment?

  23. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Trollface

    Pfefferkorn

    Obviously a rent girl.

  24. Mike 16 Bronze badge

    Perhaps?

    When a law enforcement agency says it has no way of intercepting messages on a particular encrypted service, it is a _strong_ clue that they do have access to such messages, probably through a backdoor. Or a side door, or dangling through the skylight with night-vision goggles, whatever.

    "Oh, please don't throw me into that briar patch"

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Perhaps?

    "Oh, please don't throw me into that briar patch"

    IIRC the moral of that story could also be: don't get caught in the first placel.

  26. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Big Brother

    @Mike Re: Perhaps?

    So... you have a couple of things...

    Yes the Feds do have access to the encrypted messages. There's a couple of ways that they can do this... And no, I don't know which way the do it...

    Also FB would have to have a copy of the encrypted message. After all, they have to be able to transport and deliver the message.

    What FB claims is that they can't decrypt it.

    Note: After it became clear that Zuck and Company were considering selling access to user's data, it is not a far stretch to believe that they also have access to the keys. This way they can better target the user for ads.

    Sort of like Google saying 'no human reads your gmail emails... (But their machine processing does. )

    This is why I suspect FB doesn' t want to admit that it is feasible.

    Of course it could be that they don't know the keys and that they are local to your keychain, but who knows and who cares? Why have a FB account?

  27. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Re: Perhaps?

    I keep getting this chill that, while they already have access through the phones one way or another, they keep going to the bench to see if they can force a communications provider to pony up the unencrypted messages. They certainly keep trying to get a court to go along with turning such into a precedent. Then again, I'm totally paranoid.

  28. Kane Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Perhaps?

    "Then again, I'm totally paranoid."

    Doesn't mean they're not after you.

  29. Someone Else Silver badge

    Tonton Macoute

    Claims about the secret filings first emerged in August, when the government wanted the backdoor to help their investigation into the MS-13 gang, one of President Donald Trump's favourite examples of crime gangs boogeymen.

    There, FTFY

    Every fascist regime needs its boogeyman to distract the public, dontcha no?

  30. Mycho Silver badge

    Re: Tonton Macoute

    Which is why the UK has so many.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Russian connectors!

    I'm sick of Putin up with them! The genders are all wrong.

    Hand me a piece of western coax cable. Before the US Govt started going all kooky with requiring reverse polarity SMA for wifi antennas ... the knurled or movable bayonet part of a coax connector went on the plug (male) end. Thats the way Neil Counselman intended.

    I used to work with a lot of Soviet kit and this was precisely bassackwards. So we had to hack western coax connectors to make cables to interconnect stuff.

    Then one fine day my whole team was out and a different tech was in the lab, saw all our modified cables and threw them out, proclaiming, "what dumbass made these assemblies???". Wanker.

  32. BobC

    ACLU as "a clue"

    Perhaps I'm the only one not to have previously seen the above spin on ACLU being pronounced as "a clue". I'm ashamed to admit my brain went briefly into lock-up as I repeatedly re-read the headline until I slowed down enough to interpret it correctly. Sigh.

    In any event, this is more evidence for how much I rely on El Reg to keep my word-play wits sharp, and to fill in the gaps when needed.

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