back to article Please no non-consensual BACKDOOR SNIFFING, Mr Obama

Google, Apple and 140 other technology companies will write to US President Obama today (19 May) to argue against plans which could see the security of electronic communications deliberately and compulsorily compromised for the sake of government surveillance access. The letter is intended to display the depth of support for …

  1. NoneSuch

    You can do like many companies and move where legislation is not as strict to do your business.

    The USA is sliding downhill fast. Police powers, corruption and a blase attitude about human rights is running rampant, Silent Circle moved to Canada, Lavaboom formed in Germany, and others are on the way. The US is no longer a haven for tech companies (unless you have a fruit logo on your product).

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. big_D Silver badge

      The USA seems not to realise that the use of solid encryption is the one thing their citizens need in their fight against crime.

      Yes, the bad guys can use it as well, but if the normal citizens can't use it, they are open to the whims of the bad guys and, well, the bad guys ignore the laws anyway, so they will just continue to use strong, non-US sanctioned encryption.

      It is a lose-lose situation for the USA.

  2. depicus

    WTF Richard Head

    "This year, however, Prime Minister David Cameron publicly criticised the existence of encrypted messages which law enforcement and security services are unable to access, and stated his intention of gaining US support for the notion that "[We must not] allow a means of communications which it simply isn't possible to read"

    The single most f***** stupid thing any person could ever say. I fear my government 100 times more than any "terrorist"...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: WTF Richard Head

      "[We must not] allow a means of communications which it simply isn't possible to read"

      For starters, politicians would have to shut up talking utter bollocks.

      It's not going to happen.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF Richard Head

      He is not stupid. He is a humanity major produced by a well known private school and residing in the Chipping Norton circle. This DEFINES him. EOF.

    3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: WTF Richard Head

      "allow a means of communications which it simply isn't possible to read"

      Txt spk?

    4. Tony Haines

      Re: WTF Richard Head

      //The single most f***** stupid thing any person could ever say.//

      I disagree. It's not even the stupidest thing Cameron's said recently.

      For example, there's this:

      "For too long we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone,”

      Or maybe that's not stupid, in which case it's very scary indeed.

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Re: WTF Richard Head

      It sounds like Cameron is either a Luddite or he doesn't understand encryption and its uses.

      If he gets his way, then all commerce on the Internet will be compromised and all communications as well. He will push commerce back to the High Street and cash on the barrel head. No more credit cards, no more cash points, because without secure communications they will be compromised and not save for any transactions.

      He will push the UK back into the early to middle 20th Century, in terms of commerce and communications.

  3. Twilight Turtle

    Struggling for words

    Who moots these policy ideas? I struggle to understand how any policy makers are so ignorant of the underlying principles of cryptography and secure communications that they think magical one-way backdoors that open for patriotic 'merkin gov'ment employees but not for the Chinese or pesky Eastern European crims are even technically feasible, let alone reasonable.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Struggling for words

      considering this is cameron on the internet, the mooter was almost certainly mumsnet

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Struggling for words

      "I struggle to understand how any policy makers are so ignorant of the underlying principles of.... "

      In my experience or working fairly close to policy makers, the politicians spout idiotic crap without consulting the policy makers, and then the policy has to be back fitted to the ignorant mouthings of politicos (eg Cameron's "four energy tariffs should be enough for anyone"). However, even if you consult the policy specialists, they have such narrow, siloed remits that it is very, very difficult to get a holistic picture, and despite individual good intentions that leads to bad outcomes (eg the rest of UK energy policy).

      In technology things are worse, because there's no real ministry of tech, meaning that all you have is the ramblings of gob5hites like Cameron, but not even a gang of tech specialists trying to do the right thing round the back.

    3. phil dude

      Re: Struggling for words

      Those that fail maths doom us to be ruled by their ignorance.

      Their enthusiasm to impose it on us all is unimpeded by the thought process.


  4. malle-herbert Silver badge

    "breakable non-breakable encryption"

    Sounds like quantum-cryptography to me...

  5. Spaceman Spiff

    What law "enforcement" doesn't realize, is that it is asking for magic flooby dust, and it doesn't exist! If you can break into my systems, so can anyone else.

  6. Matt Collins


    Would the (any?) government use this 'breakable non-breakable' encryption itself?

    Hmm... thought not.

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: Dogfood

      "Would the (any?) government use this 'breakable non-breakable' encryption itself?"

      Yes. They are clueless.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    International impact

    Time to seriously look at non-American products (if you haven't already).

    If those backdoors are implemented, they will be exported with the kit (even if they say it's not in there, how could we know?). So absolutely NOBODY can buy any kit from the US any more, because we know already that the NSA will not stop at their own borders (nor will the black hats who will eventually discover those holes)

    If I were to choose the lesser of two evils, I'd probably go with Korean or Chinese kit. If they get access to my stuff, they at least have no legal power to use it against me or expect me to be extradited. (Should whatever I store be declared illegal in the future; as of now, I'm not aware of any wrongdoings, but who would be able to foresee how laws and regulations will change in the future. It used to be fine to travel to Syria... try that now as a UK or US citizen...)

  8. netminder

    YEAH! We want to have all this private information to ourselves! Government STAY OUT!

    Thats not an excuse for the government to snoop but many (if not all) of the people whining have no problem snooping, tracking and mining anything that comes their way. This only covers half the problem

  9. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Sailfish OS

    Is this a trailer for Sailfish OS?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back-firing backdoor

    Let's see how long this takes:

    - a backdoor is implemented in new IT kit

    - kit is ordered and used by public service, authorities, and politicians -- of course unknowingly or in their usual ignorance

    - blackhat finds flaw and exploits backdoor (is it an exploit if you use something that is left open deliberately?)

    - blackhat spills/sells juicy information on the interwebs

    - optional: politicians ask for government-approved backdoor-free version for their own use

    If this really happens, I'll invite all commentards for a drink! (I'll start saving now, because if those backdoors come, this scenario is just a question of time)

  11. Ben Bonsall

    We have breakable non breakable encryption anyway, they just don't get it.

    With enough compute power, you can crack RSA, it's just maths. Sure, you can't crack all encrypted communication, but once you have a legitimate target, you just need to crack theirs. 5 years ago (when 768 bit was first cracked), they reckoned a $1billion computer network could crack 1024 bit rsa in a useful timeframe. I'm sure they've spent several more billions since then. No backdoor required, just cash and a target.

    1. All names Taken

      Why bother cracking and/or hacking when you can key read original typing n errors via the network?

  12. Aslan

    Mandatory XKCD

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