back to article NYPD anti-crypto Twitter campaign goes about as well as you'd expect

A social media campaign by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Manhattan District Attorney to garner public support for forcing tech companies to install encryption backdoors has backfired spectacularly. "The debate over encryption is often referred to in terms of privacy and security, with little regard for the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We did the cryptowars back in the 90s. Non-tech people need to catch up.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Where we are now is probably a direct result of the clipper chip and encryption export controls being dropped due to public pressure then.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        @Dan 55: yes, and it's a better place than we would be otherwise.

        Even though we dropped it, there still are multiple exploits related to this broken "crypto" getting, well, broken. Look up: FREAK attack, DROWN attack, in part also LOGJAM attack. All because software had support for export crypto.

  2. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    Seriously...?

    They *really* didn't see this coming? It's not as if there haven't been plenty of examples of this...

    1. goldcd

      I think the concerning thing is that "they haven't seen it coming"

      Shite like this comes from some middle-management edict, and is passed to whoever is in charge of their "hip" twitter feed.

      Can't help but feel there are no 'responsible adults' in the loop at all.

      Or to cut to the chase - should to decide to respond to this bollocks (embracing this whole peer-to-peer, I'm your mate, flat structure) - you honestly think the person in charge of this shite has the ability/permission to realize and say they're wrong?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: I think the concerning thing is that "they haven't seen it coming"

        you honestly think the person in charge of this shite has the ability/permission to realize and say they're wrong?

        It's some PHB or even Vance himself. You'll never hear "I was wrong" by any of them.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Seriously...?

      Who was their 'social media consultant' (or whatever they are called this week) and how much did they pay them?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are few supportive tweets

    Because backdooring encryption is bollocks.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: There are few supportive tweets

      Maybe all their supporters had their passwords stolen and accounts hijacked.

  4. banalyzer
    Facepalm

    A demonstration

    of just how good the authorities are with how stuff works on the web. Saying they really suck just doesn't cover how appallingly bad they are.

    The countries of the world are obviously in safe hands because I doubt this level of crass stupidity is restricted to the US.

    Where's that bottle of decent Scotch gone? I need to find oblivion for a few hours.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rememebr folks, the average US cop's IQ is only 104

    Police departments in the US, like the NYPD, actively discriminate against the best & the brightest. And it's court sanctioned.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/story?id=95836

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Rememebr folks, the average US cop's IQ is only 104

      They must have graded them on a heavy curve.

      1. TimeMaster T
        Boffin

        Re: Rememebr folks, the average US cop's IQ is only 104

        probably the older cops that where hired before the departments started going for lower barrel recruits are biasing the average up by a large amount. Give it a little more time, when the older cops retire we'll see the more accurate, and lower, average emerge among the remaining street thugs^wcops.

  6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Donut Eaters

    The NY Donut Eaters need to do their jobs which is not consuming massive amounts of donuts. A competent DA or detective will tell you that convictions are gotten by having solid evidence that points to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If it is a murder, finding the murder weapon and being able to conclusively tie to the murderer is pretty solid, cell phone not so much.

  7. goldcd

    Shpxvat Gbbyf!

    #Rot13

    1. B0rg
      Big Brother

      Re: Shpxvat Gbbyf!

      Pbhyqag tterr fberb

      1. B0rg

        Re: Shpxvat Gbbyf!

        Ooops, make that:

        PBHYQAG TTERR FBERB

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Shpxvat Gbbyf!

          ITYM "PBHYQAG NTERR ZBER", no?

          1. B0rg

            Re: Shpxvat Gbbyf!

            Well done, you spotted the deliberate mistake! Have an up-vote for your pedantry :)

  8. Youngone Silver badge

    Families

    I'm going to assume that some of the people in the photo are family members of the crime victims mentioned.

    They should think twice before they allow themselves to be whored out as PR fodder for the NYPD.

  9. Ole Juul Silver badge

    Ya right

    "evidence that used to reside in file cabinets, closets, and safes is today stored on smartphones"

    Oh yes, I remember clearly my grandmother's filing cabinets where she would keep records of all the conversations she had with people. And I'm pretty sure she also wrote down the coordinates of where she was at the time. Seriously, do these clowns even know what day it is?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Adam 1 Silver badge

    > crime victims and surviving family members have rights, too – namely, the right to have cases solved with the strongest evidence available.

    Surely the strongest available evidence for orders of magnitude more crimes is kept from victims by the right to remain silent. Admissible evidence laws for many more. Should those be repealed while you are at it?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @Adam 1

      Give it time... they need to set some precedents in courts first.

  11. Ropewash

    Yep...

    "evidence that used to reside in file cabinets, closets, and safes is today stored on smartphones"

    Oddly I do not remember law enforcement asking for a backdoor combination to be built into every safe to make access easier for them. Maybe "1-1-1-1 and shake the handle" or something equally hard to crack.

  12. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Par for the course.

  13. inmypjs Silver badge

    Other rights

    Don't the people have a right to a District Attorney with an IQ larger than his shoe size?

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Other rights

      "Americans have a right to privacy, but crime victims and surviving family members have rights, too – namely, the right to have cases solved with the strongest evidence available. Juries don't just expect that – they demand it, and evidence that used to reside in file cabinets, closets, and safes is today stored on smartphones."

      That's the part that gets me - what rights now? "Americans have Constitutional rights, BUT..." No, that's it... no ifs. ands, buts, or any other qualifications.

      Fuck you, do your fucking jobs within the law. If you cannot, we'll find somebody else who can.

  14. dan1980

    Cops are generally good people with a genuine sense of duty and an honesty desire to 'protect and serve'.

    But they are people and so some are 'bad eggs'. In some cases this is simple careless but in others they are driven to bend and break the rules in pursuit of their duty and still others outright break the law out of pure self-interest.

    That's just a fact.

    And, as such, you cannot pretend that those people will not misuse the powers being demanded. What argument can possibly be deployed where one acknowledges that some police current misuse their existing powers but insists that these new powers will be safe and not misused?

    But let's put that aside. For the moment.

    Why do these people never get up and push for tighter restrictions and safeguards when it comes to access to these powers? How do they claim that they respect privacy and need to find a 'balance' but always, always resist any proposals of restriction or oversight and actively lobby for existing safeguards to be watered down and removed?

    Why do we never see one standing up and saying that:

    "We need a strict, monitored and tightly-controlled process for access to sensitive data and deployment of powers that intrude upon privacy and weaken security."

    Why do we never hear the police calling upon the government to:

    "Set up an independent taskforce to investigate any misuses of police powers and press criminal charges against those found to have accessed data without approval or under false pretenses or disclosed that data to any third parties."

    They say they are committed to protecting privacy and security and that they want to find 'balance' but for some reason those calls for protection never involve calls for oversight and the appeals to 'balance' are always towards one side of the argument - more access to more data with less regulation.

    Curious . . .

    1. TimeMaster T

      food for thought

      If a good cop knows that another officer is bad and doesn't do anything, doesn't that make the "good" cop worse than the bad cop since they are not only NOT doing anything to stop the bad cop (so an accessory after the fact) but are also protecting the bad cop (obstruction) by not reporting them.

      So by this its easy to arrive at the conclusion that all the police are dirty, not just one or two.

      The greatest evil is when the good to nothing.

      1. chris 17 Bronze badge

        Re: food for thought

        @ TimeMaster T

        "If a good cop knows that another officer is bad and doesn't do anything, doesn't that make the "good" cop worse than the bad cop since they are not only NOT doing anything to stop the bad cop (so an accessory after the fact) but are also protecting the bad cop (obstruction) by not reporting them."

        The problem is its institutional. Its the culture of policing that prevents good cops from being good cops as its stops the bad cops from controlling the bad villains who keep the rest of the villains at bay. Some crime happens so that other worse crime do not. You'd get nowhere in policing if you did everything by the book & not because the book is so contradictory.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Get real, that's not even in the same city as the ballpark. Fixed:

      Cops are generally 'bad eggs'. But they are people and so some are good people with a genuine sense of duty and an honesty desire to 'protect and serve'.

      1. dan1980

        @Dropbear

        Labelling the police as generally bad with just a few okay ones is no way to proceed in this argument as it's something that will get the police and the politicians VERY defensive.

        People arguing this way are discounted as extreme and prejudiced. It doesn't matter if you are correct or not because the argument gets shot down too easily.

        Instead, I believe the best way is to point out, essentially, that even if the vast majority are unimpeachable, there are still, provably, some percentage who do the wrong thing and when it comes to access to powers of such a sensitive and potentially damaging nature, just one misuse of power by one police office can be devastating for an individual, family or a company.

        When the police cannot guarantee that existing powers will not be abused at all, they cannot guarantee that the sought-after new powers won't be.

        1. DropBear Silver badge
          Mushroom

          "Labelling the police as generally bad with just a few okay ones is no way to proceed in this argument..."

          I really don't give a f### about the argument - I'm simply conveying my (and my circles of friends') experience with the police. No-one but greedy thugs go there, and you can count on them to be nowhere around when someone raises their fist at you (personal experience) but you can be sure they're camping that one section of road with a speed limit 50 miles below anything any sane person would agree to (also personal experience). So yeah, FUCK THOSE BASTARD PIGS. They're not there to "protect" you, they're there to beat anyone into submission who seems to be disturbing one of the entirely arbitrary state-mandated rules a suitable candidate for this afternoon's entertainment for a power-freak who KNOWS he has full impunity to fuck up real good anyone he pleases. So yeah, there's no thing horrible enough that could possibly happen to them that I would not applaud and cheer for enthusiastically - and I'm not even living on the same continent as those two poor buggers - the police is simply a universal constant of evil...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    File cabinets, closets, and safes?

    Wow, who knew?

    Case closed!

    PS: Beware of the leopard.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: File cabinets, closets, and safes?

      And the stairs.

  16. HkraM
    WTF?

    Stealing a hashtag

    "But the NYPD is also facing allegations that it stole the #unlockjustice hashtag"

    Since when could you steal a hashtag?

    1. BurnT'offering

      Re: Stealing a hashtag

      I don't know, but if they stole, they deserve to be prosecuted. There must be some evidence on their phones ...

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Stealing a hashtag

      Stealing hashtags from Quakers...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, victims have rights too..

    .. namely not to become victims in the first place. WTF do you think is going to happen when you weaken encryption? Do you really think that the bad guys online will go "nah, that's just TOO easy, I'm going to stop trying to steal people's personal information and bank details, and rescind my comfy life of crime"? Maybe you ought to snort less of the stuff you confiscate.

    This is the core problem with law enforcement in general - it is not ENFORCING. It is merely mopping up and pointing the finger later. Like CCTV, that does little to prevent the crime taking place in the first place, which is what you really want to make a feel a civilian feeling safe again.

    Unless, of course, you can't afford people to feel safe ..

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was so hoping the campaign had "back-fired" because someone had hacked NYPDs Twitter A/C because of a weak password...

  19. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    What's next... rape won't be a crime as long as it's done within the privacy of your own home?

    Police won't be able to search the home of a thief for stolen goods?

    Amazing how many people don't critically think about anything these days.

    People stand up against this without putting any thought into it. They just rant against the government or repeat something they heard from someone they believe has wisdom, knowledge and expertise... well, until they become a victim and there's likely proof of the act on the criminal's phone.

    One of the US Government's primary jobs is the protection of its citizens. Right to privacy isn't absolute, and it loses when it comes to security of the nation or protection of the people.

    You're naïve and moronic if you believe law enforcement sits there and listens in or picks through everyone's phone, just because. Yeah, they have nothing better to do, right?

    Unless you're a criminal, you really should be standing behind government on this one. Especially since 99.99% of the crap on your phone is probably the same information you'd leave unsecure on paper all around your house.

    1. Triggerfish

      What's next... rape won't be a crime as long as it's done within the privacy of your own home?

      Well actually

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/09/marital-rape-is-semi-legal-in-8-states.html

      Oh and no I do not stand up against the goverment against anything, I read learn and look at history and as much as our borders might need be guarded by rough men and we have the privilege of freedom to criticise the goverment, blindly following what your goverment says shows a certain naivety, lack of critical thinking, and possibly a lack of ability to extrapolate possible futures in its own right.

      Personally I thought the Goverments job was to serve the people.

    2. Alister Silver badge

      @ Aodhhan

      One of the US Government's primary jobs is the protection of its citizens. Right to privacy isn't absolute, and it loses when it comes to security of the nation or protection of the people.

      You just don't get it, do you. What the Government is asking for is NOT POSSIBLE.

      It is not possible to create strong encryption with an easy way in "only for government use".

      The two possible choices are:

      1/ Strong Encryption for everybody which cannot be easily bypassed or broken.

      2/ Weak Encryption for everybody, which can be bypassed or broken by governments and criminals alike.

      The drawback with #2 is that strong encryption already exists, so even if law abiding citizens and companies do as the government asks, and only use weaker encryption, there's nothing to stop criminals and terrorists from using the existing strong encryption.

    3. grizewald

      Any you are doubly naïve and moronic if you think that forcing broken crypto on people will make anyone safer. Quite the reverse!

      Maybe you should actually put some thought into your post before making it.

      The fact is that broken crypto and wholesale data collection will harm many more people than it will ever protect.

    4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      "

      One of the US Government's primary jobs is the protection of its citizens. Right to privacy isn't absolute, and it loses when it comes to security of the nation or protection of the people.

      "

      Following that logic, let's also make it illegal to fit locks on your front doors or vehicles so that people cannot keep anything hidden inside their houses or cars.

      You may have heard of the move to make travellers fit TSA locks on their suitcases so that they can be opened with a master key held by customs officials. If so, you may also have heard that the design of the master key is freely available on the Internet and can be made by anyone with a modicum of skill. I expect many thieves and dishonest baggage handlers have one by now. Do you really think it was such a good idea?

      The same will happen PDQ to any "backdoor" encryption master key.

    5. fidodogbreath Silver badge
      FAIL

      Thank you, District Attorney Vance, for joining the conversation.

    6. 404 Silver badge

      Hey Aodhhan....

      Fuck off.

      Is that critical enough for you?

  20. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    @Aodhhan

    "What's next... rape won't be a crime as long as it's done within the privacy of your own home?"

    You might want to take the scarecrow and put it back in the corn field.

    No one here is suggesting that we *remove* properly regulated powers of detention, search and seizure, no one is suggesting that we decriminalize things that are criminal actions.

    What has been incontestably demonstrated, by mathematicians, Black Hat Hackers, White Hat Hackers, scientists, atheists, Christians, Muslims, Russians, Americans, Chinese and Africans is that if there is any flaw in any form of cryptography, someone will find it. And when they find it they will use that flaw. To steal, to abuse, to stalk, to harass, to rape, to kidnap.

    Just because you have nothing to hide TODAY does not mean that the crap on your phone today will not someday be either illegal or questionable.

    Just because the police forces have postulated situations where having immediate access to an encrypted device *might* conceivably, possibly, be of some value, does not stipulate that in fact, or in reality that that these situations or events have already or ever will occur.

    Just because you *believe* you live in a free society and that you are comfortable with the laws of *YOUR* land does not mean that there are no others on the planet who are struggling against oppression and violence and *need* the security of being able to encrypt their communications.

    Effectively they are throwing a hypothetical argument against scientific proof. Much like the anti-vaxxers out there.

    Now, perhaps you might want to sit down and think about why some of us in the IT world, who have to deal on a daily basis with some 40 *plus* legal frameworks regarding various forms of data that must be secured while in our care are so completely and utterly and vehemently against this utter foolishness.

    <seriously grumpy today - -management issue yesterday and an all nighter solving RPC locking issues.>

    <edit fixed a typo or two>

  21. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Here's a simple explanation

    Even @aodhhan might be able to understand it:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=4083

    There's a mouseover and a "votey" (hit the V key for an "after comic"), but the cartoon itself is sufficient.

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