back to article Five Eyes nations stare menacingly at tech biz and its encryption

Officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will discuss next month plans to force tech companies to break encryption on their products. The so-called Five Eyes nations have a long-standing agreement to gather and share intelligence from across the globe. They will meet in Canada …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Privacy of a Trrrst?

    Turnbull told Parliament: "The privacy of a terrorist can never be more important than public safety – never."

    I don't think anyone is suggesting that, although there may be a different view about the privacy of an alleged trrrrst. But even more importantly I think a lot of people would say that the privacy of everyone in a country and their freedoms under the law are more important than limited public safety. Millions died in wars to make that point.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

      I think he may have made a double negative.

      Millions died in wars to allow capitalism to continue. Where did the money come from to fight those wars? It was a land grab by the Germans, nothing to do with privacy or freedom, the subsequent removal of freedoms by the east Germans was to do with communism which in it's purist form works for everyone however it has never been applied in that sense because there are greedy people that enjoy the capitalist trough.

      Anyway, enough sarcasm aside, the fight against the removal of privacy will only begin when it affects everyone and then it will probably be too late because like the DFS sale, once it's gone, it's gone.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

        "nothing to do with privacy or freedom,"

        If you had said that to my father when he was alive, he would have called you a twat and possibly have given you a slap.

        He lied about his age and faked his work documents to show he was 2 years older than he was, so that he could join the RAF to fight as he was concerned about the German threat to his freedom and that of Europe and the World, his father who also fought in the first war also joined up immediately as did his 3 brothers, all for the same reasons.

        The Nazis were a totalitarian government who would brook no disagreement or criticism of their beliefs and government. As such privacy was as much at risk as liberty.

        You are however partly right in my opinion as the older I get the more I think the US looked upon WWII as a business oppurtunity at least as much as a fight for their freedom, for the rest of us it was very much an Idealistic war

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

          "[...] as the older I get the more I think the US looked upon WWII as a business oppurtunity at least as much as a fight for their freedom, [..]"

          That attitude probably changed to some extent in December 1941.

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

            Some in the US were well ahead of December 7, 1941 in opposing the German launch of war and supporting defense of Britain. As evidence I suggest my parents who, as memvers of the American Hospital in Britain at Park Prewett Hospital near Basingstoke left New York for Britain in late August, 1940. They lacked certainty about whether they would be received by the British or their German conquerors, and arrived in London in early September during the Blitz, returning to the US in mid or late 1941. They, the other members of the hospital staff, and the Allied Relief Fund that provided part of their support certainly were not paying a lot of attention to any business opportunity.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

          My granddad also fought in world war 2 for the RAF. Sadly he died before I ever got to know him.

          Don't confuse world war one with world war two. They are two different beasts.

          The Nazi's weren't a totalitarian government they were a populist government, they didn't need control as they used the sheep herd mentality.

          How could you take privacy away from someone in the 1930's? Read their letters? Technology wasn't about back then therefore what exactly could you do?

          Edit: OP btw

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

            There isn't much privacy in a camp; ask half of Europe, the far east, the Jews and Gypsies among others. Then read some history before you have to repeat it. Remember too that you may not be on the winning side or you may even be considered to be one of the mentally defective and sent to a camp for processing. Look up how the Nazis were able to do such a thorough job of destroying whole populations, they used technology which isn't too far distant from what is available today, though they didn't have an app for it then it was still very effective. Luckily the Allies were able to use technology to better effect to deal with these animals. One could argue we are still paying the price for this.

            AC because I can't believe the drivel some people believe and have no desire to argue about it or read any more.

            PS I've met men who fought in both wars and on different sides and have heard some stories about the control. It is a shame you didn't meet your grandfather, I'll wager he would find it hard to find the difference between the two wars or any others for that matter. Try meeting some survivors while you still can.

        3. gerdesj

          Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

          "as the older I get the more I think the US looked upon WWII as a business oppurtunity at least as much as a fight for their freedom"

          The US's view on WW2 is rather different to ours in the UK - a visit to the Nation War Museum in NOLA brought that home to me. To the left pond mob, the war against Japan was rather more personal to the homeland than the war in Europe/Africa etc. The US military came over here in vast numbers and helped us and the other Allies out across rather a large swathe of the world whilst the vast majority of the war in the Pacific was US vs Japan.

          You may be thinking of Lend-Lease which we only finished paying off quite recently (2002ish?) That is simply the way of things in war time. As far as I am concerned, some rather good mates turned up in the nick of time when the shit hit the airconn. I should obviously point out that there were many other countries who chucked their men and women at the effort that might not have bothered.

          I will also point out that Tom Hanks was not there, despite "Saving Pt Ryan" and the NOLA exhibitions 8)

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

          All wars are banker's wars, and now we live under the boot of the American empire, and all the cancerous multinationals it has spawned. Your dad was a tool.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Chris G - Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

          This is where propaganda really kicks in. To convince those young men they are fighting for the freedom of their Motherland. Germans did it, Soviets did it, Japanese did it, what makes you believe US and British were different ?

          As a German war criminal was saying, nobody likes to go to war but the governments will always find a way to make people go for it.

          For your information, the quantity of propaganda I had to swallow when I was living under a communist regime made me allergic so now I can detect it even in small doses as provided by what we call here in the West "public relations".

      2. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

        >which in it's purist form works for everyone however it has never been applied in that sense because there are greedy people that enjoy the capitalist trough.

        Always the same refrain with Communists (and, no, not falling for US fallacy that socialism==communism): give us another chance cuz Mao, Pol Pot, NK, Stalin, Chavez were "not the real thing".

        About the only less than toxic implementation to date has been Cuba's and even that's hardly been an unmitigated success story though at least they only imprison people and avoid shooting them. And have enviable social metrics, by some measures.

        If it's so great how come they never submit to a ballot after coming to power, eh?

        Tosser.

        1. channelswimmer

          Re: Trade deals with the EU

          > If it's so great how come they never submit to a ballot after coming to power, eh?

          Like the democratically elected Communist governments in West Bengal and Kerala you mean? Tosser.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: Trade deals with the EU

            Fairly specious example. They don't have much of a choice, as states, in India, do they? Can't do any better?

            Surely there must be one case, somewhere, sometime, when fair independent multiparty elections were held in a fully independent Communist nation state. Can't think of one, but...

            Maybe Nicaragua, not sure how that went.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

      I don't think anyone is suggesting that

      You are trying to find meaning in a stament that is meant to confuse and dissemble.

      You have already lost the game.

      Let's have a framework here:

      Gaslighting: State Mind Control and Abusive Narcissism

    3. goldcd

      Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

      Exactly.

      Terrorists don't deserve privacy - but this is not the same as the removal of privacy from all, to see who's a terrorist.

      As a realist, I fully accept that this isn't easy - what I'd like to see is simply some openness. Maybe if your government looks at your email or browser history - they drop you a note to say you're in the clear?

    4. Meph
      Alert

      Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

      " there may be a different view about the privacy of an alleged trrrrst."

      I think this deserves a little more discussion. AFAIK western common law is built on several pillars, one of which is "the presumption of innocence until proven guilty". I'm enough of a grown up to know that achieving this requires evidence, but I'm profoundly disturbed by the implications behind the words of our illustrious PM..

      Does he similarly think that the privacy of his law abiding citizens isn't as important as public safety? Or is he somehow suggesting that only terrorists will have their privacy impacted by the use of these tools? (Note: I very deliberately didn't indicate who would be operating the tools).

      It seems to me that terrorism is about spreading an agenda through fear and violence, and if this sort of push from our governments is the result, then it's pretty clear that they're having an effect.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Privacy of a Trrrst?

      Unfortunately given the great and desperate lengths that our western democracies are going to in order to monitor every aspect of our communications, it would seem that now everyone is an "alleged trrrrst" and makes me wonder who they are talking about when they say they are doing it "to keep us safe".

  2. herman Silver badge

    Hmm, isn't the meta data supposed to be more useful than the messages itself?

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Don't worry. We've got Senator "metadata" Brandis to ensure that the public are protected from extra-territorial abuse of such a process.

      CONTENT CAUTION: The linked transcript has been known to induce the following symptoms: crying, hysterical laughing, nausea, confusion, despair, anxiety, bewilderment, and total agreement with Walkley Award judgement criteria. Reader discretion is advised.

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Just the spies?

    create a piece of software that could be sent to an individual's phone that would allow spies and russian and chinese criminals direct access to the device and so enable them to bypass encryption protection.

    FTFY.

    Would this be the famous NSA that has never ever ever leaked any of it's code, exploits and data to the wide world?

    1. vir

      Re: Just the spies?

      In all fairness, they weren't "leaked" so much as "stolen and then leaked", but the end result is the same. Imagine how much more numerous and sophisticated the attempts will be to obtain these backdoor keys when the payoff isn't some old, mostly-patched vulnerabilities with the odd zero-day thrown in but the ability to compromise the very fabric of electronic commerce.

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Open source?

    The other big question is how do they mandate that in any open source project? Are they going to actually make it illegal to have any properly implemented encryption? Can we ask how this might act in terms of business insurance when systems are in use for protecting IP and account details, etc, are known to be vulnerable?

    Seems like the 1990's are back and want to discuss those flaws and key-size limits that bit system security a couple of decades later.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Open source?

      Good point. I still have my perl munitions t-shirt from 20 years ago (e.g. http://www.cypherspace.org/adam/shirt/uk-front2.jpg) must dig it out and wear it in public again 8-)

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        t-shirts

        Hmm...I need to see if I still have the old t-shirt back from Clipper days. The front had '1984 "We're behind schedule" NSA' graphic and Wired's anti-clipper graphic.

        Fair few graphics from that era in that directory.

      2. Dinsdale247

        Re: Open source?

        Ha ha ha! Awesome!

        What will happen is FOSS projects that don't want back doors will have to move to hosting solutions outside US/Five Eyes control. NSA will inevitably set up honeypots with signatures in the encryption code for tracking. Anyone who really does navigate to a FOSS project will be red-flagged for further tracking. Torr is of limited usefulness when dealing with entities that can monitor ALL input and output from Torr hosts.

        Welcome to the new world order.

    2. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: Open source?

      "Wow, nice software son. It sure would be a shame if the IRS decided to audit you every year for eternity from now on. And if the EPA took an interest. And if the FCC decided it was worth investigating in case it was 'commerce'. Yep, sure would be a shame. If only there was a way that sort of thing didn't happen. Right?"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @GrumpyKiwi - Re: Open source?

        It is sure that governments will have a look at this angle but the horses have already left the barn. So they will tell banks and military to stop using this open source software until they can come out with a backdoored solution. Oh and the terrorists will keep enjoying good quality encryption software they already have.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: @GrumpyKiwi - Open source?

          "Oh and the terrorists will keep enjoying good quality encryption software they already have."

          Which will thus stick out like sore thumbs since the State can't read them. AND there are ways to stymie steganography to make even that risky. The thing about encryption in the past was that it wasn't a risk back then to talk in code. Now the mere use of encryption can be very risky, possible to detect in flight (and thus trace), and so on. The trouble with "hiding in plain sight" comes when plain sight severely limits your options.

  5. John Dann

    I need educating

    What am I missing about this encryption jamboree? If I happened to be involved in any nefarious activities then I guess I'd only use a properly (I think!) encrypted email service like ProtonMail, which the ISP wouldn't/couldn't provide any way of decrypting (though maybe GCHQ could via brute force etc). What more is there to understand?

    1. vir

      Re: I need educating

      You're not missing anything; it's the powers that be. In addition to the "mathematically impossible" part of the argument against, they also fail to grasp the idea that mandating a backdoor in all encrypted systems won't preclude the creation of new systems without one or the use of existing systems unaffected by their mandate.

    2. missingegg

      Re: I need educating

      Don't kid yourself: if a government with appropriate legal authority shows up and demands access, ProtonMail will have to make a choice: go to prison, or push a software update that compromises the security of their system. Any form of software that readily accepts updates from the vendor is inherently insecure. Lavabit shutdown their entire business rather than give in to the government. But how do you decide which vendors your trust to make that decision?

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: I need educating

        The thing with services like ProtonMail is that in theory even the operators can't decrypt.

        In practice - as we saw with JAP - the courts may order that the client is compromised to facilitate interception.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I need educating

        "if a government with appropriate legal authority shows up and demands access, ProtonMail will have to make a choice"

        What's all this about "a" government. ProtonMail are based in Switzerland. I don't think Switzerland are going to take kindly to any old government rolling up. The only legal authority that stands there is Swiss.

        1. missingegg

          Re: I need educating

          I don't claim to have any expertise in Swiss politics. But it's not clear to me that there's no chance of the Swiss government deciding that they'd like a peek at your email. Are you confident that there isn't a certificate authority that won't hand over a private key to the NSA and allow them to man-in-the-middle your load of the web app? Are you confident that the US government can't exert enough pressure on Google or Apple to put a compromised version of the app into their respective stores? The structure of software businesses and distribution channels leave a lot of attack surface for a government to poke at.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I need educating

          "ProtonMail are based in Switzerland."

          Which has meant nothing since the US compelled Switzerland (through threats of sanctions) to break their vaunted bank account anonymity.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: I need educating

            Use end-to-end encryption, make your software completely open source and charge only for server access, publish both on Google Play, F-droid and as standalone apk - this could only be compromised if the code lacked scrutiny or if your device was itself compromised...

            1. Dinsdale247
              FAIL

              Re: I need educating

              ANDROID IS A TRACKING SERVICE FROM GOOGLE - A US BASED COMPANY.

              There are so many security vulnerabilities in Android, it will never ever ever be safe. The simple fact that Google Apps is on your phone will prevent you from ever being a private citizen again. Did you know that your phone is telling google about ALL the wifi access points you come into range of?

              You DID know that they are tracking your every single movement to provide you with "more acurate information" and you can't actually turn that off because it's part of the PROPRIETARY Google Apps?

              Moreover, 80% of phones can be rooted in a few minutes from instructions on the internet written by a teenager. If that's too hard for the NSA, look at the laundry list of vulnerabilities in the last patch. Android has been around for many years now and you can still be compromised by someone sending you a text that you don't even respond to!!!

              More again, the baseband on all phones is intrinsically insecure. All drivers live in the kernel space and have full access to, well everything. Many, many of the drivers your phone relies on are proprietary and are only available as binary blobs and are written by companies that (surprise!) are based in the US.

              More again, the radio in your phone usually has a small "operating system" running the chip. Once again, binary blobs from companies based in the US, or even better, China.

              Until an entire open source hardware and software solution that is NOT based on GNU/Linux (or any other monolithic kernel) is developed, you will always be at the mercy of those that understand all the things you didn't even know were a problem.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: I need educating

            "Which has meant nothing since the US compelled Switzerland ... to break their vaunted bank account anonymity."

            I thought someone would come up with that. AFAICS that's left the Swiss hopping mad and consequently I'd expect them to be even less willing to countenance anything else that goes against their take on privacy.

          3. Dinsdale247

            Re: I need educating

            "Which has meant nothing since the US compelled Switzerland (through threats of sanctions) to break their vaunted bank account anonymity."

            The Cayman Islands started working with the US in the last 5 years as well. It's actually pressure on the banks, not the country that causes it. The US says: If you don't play nice we will put you on the no-no list and anyone within US influence is not allowed to do business with you.

            It all inevitably comes down to money. Software companies are no different.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "giving the police and the authorities the powers they need to keep our country safe."

    Who says they're going to limit it to software?

    They might as well just bring in Jack Bauer. For your safety, of course :/

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is bad for business.

    How many companies do you suppose are under contract to keep their data encrypted to protect their customers? Are these governments even aware that they themselves have existing contracts with vendors that force encryption compliance?

    I'm one of those cases. I personally have to run BitLocker on my work laptop because I have no other choice. And both Android and iOS are running encrypted by default these days.

    Why would we even use encryption in the first place if it has known backdoors? The whole point is make it prohibitively expensive to break into other peoples' devices, which has the nice side effect of forcing governments to use brute force sparingly, such as in high profile cases of terrorism. It needs to be an expensive procedure, otherwise you're opening yourself up to potential attacks from small time crackers and script kiddies in addition to state actors.

    It's like locking the front door to your house before you leave. Nobody will dispute that the door can be rammed or destroyed by any number of large tools/vehicles, but the lock will still be effective against all the hundreds of potential dumb criminals that forgot to bring a crowbar. If you leave the back door unlocked, however, you're fucked as soon as any criminal decides they want to try ALL the doors to the house, not just the front.

    How many times do we have to go over this? Security through obscurity is a danger to everyone.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: This is bad for business.

      Add violating various privacy laws because the encryption can be easily broken.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This is bad for business.

      "How many companies do you suppose are under contract to keep their data encrypted to protect their customers?"

      It goes the other way as well. If you have log-in access to any online service take a good look at the T&Cs. You're obliged to keep those confidential. How do you do that if you don't have secure encryption while you use it?

      There's a simple rule to apply here. If you want to advocate breaking online security you should be obliged to put all your online credentials - bank, Amazon, Tesco, whatever in the public domain for a year before implementing everything. If, at the end of the year, it still seems like a good idea then go ahead.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: This is bad for business.

        "How many companies do you suppose are under contract to keep their data encrypted to protect their customers?"

        Simple. No one's above THE LAW. If the law compels you to break the contract and takes precedence over contract law, guess who wins.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: This is bad for business.

          "Simple. No one's above THE LAW. If the law compels you to break the contract and takes precedence over contract law, guess who wins."

          And what if THE LAW (to adopt your caps) says you've got to keep things confidential.

          Take, for instance, my daughter's job. She works from home managing clinical trials for a pharma company based some distance away. By using a VPN she can log onto the office system, video-conference etc. as if she was in their office. Now consider what's likely to and what will certainly be exchanged over the link. Patient data is likely and is going to have various regulatory protocols governing it, from basic DPA stuff upwards. And certainly trials results will be involved; those are share price sensitive so they're governed by financial regulation.

          TL;DR The law may or not be an ass; legislators are and whenever they stick their noses into whatever they don't understand they'll contradict themselves.

    3. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: This is bad for business.

      How many companies do you suppose are under contract to keep their data encrypted to protect their customers?

      While not quite 'under contract', the new data protection regulations in Europe are certainly pushing companies towards encrypting all customer data. While this alone won't protect you from data theft, in the event this happens it will be important to show that you considered data security, and encrypting it would be an obvious thing to do. Pretty soon I'd expect encrypted data to be the default, and it's not a particular leap to suggest that this might include communications, as well as databases and the like.

  8. easytoby

    Whatsapp favourite for plotting

    And all the while, Whatsapp groups remain the favourite vehicle for plotting politicians to secretly discuss business in private

    1. localzuk

      Re: Whatsapp favourite for plotting

      That's the thing. If politicians are using such a tool, their own communications will be open to interception. I wonder how quickly the law would be changed after their messages were made public ?

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Does Not Make Sense

      That's just the thing - there's no more reliable way to get Authority to chain you up until you can't even wiggle your pinky, regardless how inconvenient that makes everything for everyone, than telling it that it can't do something. Red flag, bull, china shop to ex-china shop...

    2. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Does Not Make Sense

      It makes sense, you just have to look at it the right way. A rational point of view is that mass surveillance is a sickness, a disease that will kill the 5-eyes hosts. Attempting to control encryption is just one more pox on us all. However, from a mass surveillance point of view encryption gets in the way of big data and that is a problem. For data mining and mass surveillance it increases the cost of what is already a worthless endeavour. If mass surveillance is ever to be proved useful we must all stand naked before it just like the scanners at the airports.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NSA = Nothing Safe Anymore!

    What twisted logic that we can strengthen our country by weakening our security. Seriously, the NSA can't even keep their own tools secure (WannaCry) It's ridiculous to think they could keep a backdoor into my encryption safe.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: NSA = Nothing Safe Anymore!

      It might be appropriate to ask whether Apple, Microsoft, or any other provider who signs software can keep their secret keys safe. We certainly have seen a number of cases in which certificate authorities have been unable to do so, and there is no bigger back door to privacy protection than the capability to sign a boot loader and put it into the download area for updates.

  11. Oh Homer
    Facepalm

    Sounds like...

    An excellent way to drive all communications activity offshore and/or underground, beyond the jurisdiction of the five (or any) eyes.

    What then, genius?

    Is the supposedly "free world" destined to become just another North Korea: fenced in, watched and herded like a flock of sheep, all in the name of supposedly "protecting our Freedumb®", because I really don't see how else our totalitarian rulers could prevent the extrajurisdictional circumvention of their cunning plan?

    1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
      Pint

      Protect our freedumb(tm)

      Freedumb... brilliant turn of phrase; have a pint and upvote on me

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like...

      "How many companies do you suppose are under contract to keep their data encrypted to protect their customers?"

      Extraordinary communications taps. Think tap subs. No matter how far you try to drive communications underground, some State actors are determined enough to FOLLOW you. Remember, even bin Laden's inner circle got snooped (which then directly led to his death), and al Queda was pretty insistent on Sneakernet. What Man can do, Man can REdo.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Making a deal with the Devil

    Private companies would be wise not to play ball with "The Powers That Be" regarding an intrusion of privacy, it would mean their demise, I don't use Google or Windows 10 for that very reason. I think it's a bad idea to make a deal with the Devil out of convenience or because you like his app.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Making a deal with the Devil

      But what if you get cornered and NEED a potentially-subverted app to run your business day-to-day, there are no substitutes, and you lack the skill and/or resources to roll your own?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Making a deal with the Devil

      It doesn't work like that. It's going something like the following:

      Governments have been asking for cooperation, the companies have chosen not to. Governments are losing patience, and are moving to take the matter out of the hands of the companies.

      The companies then won't have a choice - the laws in various countries will become very explicit about what is expected. The "deal" will be made by Governments using law and it will be on terms chosen by Governments, not negotiated by the companies.

      Breaking the new laws will result in huge fines, and possibly prison for individual company officers. That's the choice that people like Zuckerberg, Schmidt, Cook, etc will personally face.

      Inevitable

      Like it or loathe, this situation is an inevitable consequence of the companies' more or less total failure to engage. They’ve forgotten what it is that motivates voters, and hence politicians.

      Practically the only universal belief shared by all politicians everywhere is that law and order really, really matters, that their own personal future (employment as an MP, cushy number as an elected leader) depends on being seen to be effective at dealing with crime. Falling short on law and order, doing nothing about a string of attacks, is an absolute guarantee of being voted out of office. Terrorism, unchecked paedophilia, unbridled hate videos, really do all have a political effect.

      In matters like this one has to calculate where the corporate risk, profit lies. The companies have, I think, miscalculated. When this first became an issue (not even a political issue) they could have chosen to lead the debate on how content should be policed.

      However they chose not to debate at all, and effectively said that content policing won't happen at all. And they have been repeatedly caught out having not policed content themselves and have also been ineffective and obstructive about removing it.

      I cannot think up a company - government interaction that's going to irritate a politician more than that.

      I think their profit risk calculation went something like this, in California. "If we're seen to cave in at all, our freetard ad funded business model is toast". And they looked no further than that.

      This all took place when the companies started using https:// post Snowden.

      Fault

      The cause of all this is a failure of legislators to see early enough that OTT services like Facebook, YouTube, etc would need regulation (like phone networks are). They remain unregulated, and putting the genie back in the bottle is going to cause a huge row.

      The companies are also at fault for not working out that regulation is going to play a long term role in their networks' operations. The fact that their business models rely on a lack of regulation is what has made them short sighted.

      One way out of it would be proof of legal ID at user registration. That'd drive their business model away from freetard data slurping ad funded towards paid for ad free services. Might be refreshing...

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Making a deal with the Devil

        WRONG. The companies have all the "negotiating" power of a bunny rabbit "negotiating" what's for dinner when invited over to the big bad wolf. At most they could tweak the specific timeline - the destination remains unchanged, and The Powers That Be will not stop pushing until they can read everything they want at any time (which is simply everything all the time). How exactly they will go about it in a technical sense is irrelevant, therefore so is any "negotiating power" attributed to the tech sector. The rabbit stew is non-negotiable, everything else is irrelevant.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Making a deal with the Devil

          RIGHT - phones Whitehouse, "Mr President can you pass the phone to your bosses from Goldman Sachs sitting opposite you?"

          Hi this is Facebook/Apple/Amazon/Google, we represent 45% of the stock market, we are moving to Canada. Hope you enjoy being a 3rd world country - bye

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Making a deal with the Devil

            "I hope you enjoy all their irksome regulations while you're there. We also know the bulk of your money isn't really in the US anyway. Oh, you'll also be required to pay some exit taxes on the way out, so you may be forced to repatriate some of that money to pay the bills. Meanwhile, the remaining FIFTY-five percent of the market will endure while new entrants come in to try their luck."

            IOW, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

          2. Oh Homer

            Re: "we are moving to Canada"

            It'll never happen, because no company is going to sacrifice the world's biggest market in pursuit of some ideological cause.

            The best we can hope for is that US tech firms reluctantly capitulate to this new totalitarian regime, then lose all their customers due to unpopular government-mandated privacy violations, forcing the government to choose between Draconian "national security" policies or a healthy economy.

            In practice I suspect that, sadly, those companies won't actually lose many customers, most of whom will be completely oblivious to the aforementioned government-mandated privacy violations, or worse will be too apathetic to care.

            1. Dinsdale247

              Re: "we are moving to Canada"

              "It'll never happen, because no company is going to sacrifice the world's biggest market in pursuit of some ideological cause."

              Corporations are legally not allowed to make an altruistic decision that threatens profitability. A corporation is mandated to peruse profit for it's shareholders. If it is found to be doing otherwise, the shareholders can sue and remove the board of directors and/or any corporate officer.

              I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I am saying getting an activist hedge fund that holds 15% of your shares to agree would probably be well near impossible.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Making a deal with the Devil

        "Breaking the new laws will result in huge fines, and possibly prison for individual company officers. That's the choice that people like Zuckerberg, Schmidt, Cook, etc will personally face."

        And eventually US govts will wish for the old days when they had tech businesses resident there.

        "They’ve forgotten what it is that motivates voters, and hence politicians."

        I think they know very well what motivates their users and also that their users are voters. They also have very good communications with their users. It could turn out to be the politicians who've forgotten something. When it comes to being warned about terrorism, that's a relatively remote threat*. Being warned about your finances being at risk, that's personal.

        *I lived in N Ireland for many years in the '60s to the '80s so, yes, I do know a little about that.

      3. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

        Re: Making a deal with the Devil

        In the United States, we have the 2nd amendment

        to guarantee the 1st amendment and ANY government

        in America that tries the above will face possibly up to

        300 MILLION GUNS ALL LOCKED and LOADED......

        in order to make WE THE PEOPLE'S points

        and displeasures WELL KNOWN

        to said government!

  13. DROP DATABASE
    Big Brother

    why

    Because you can trust the government

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why

      In Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, people generally do.

      In the USA, people generally don't. Even people who work for the government don't trust it (I've met several...).

      Sure, that's a generalisation, there's differences in opinion everywhere, but the dislike of the Federal government in the US is on a whole different level to what you'll experience in other countries.

      1. MrDamage

        Re: why

        I'm Australian, and I wouldn't trust my government to be able to organise a fuck in a brothel.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: why

          I'm European, and neither would I.

        2. Truckle The Uncivil

          Re: why

          @MrDamage

          That is because it has not been our government since 1975.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    Guarantee a backdoor into every PC in a country and they will come.

    From anywhere and everywhere on the planet.

    The black hats.

    The ad slingers.

    The bitcoin miners.

    Those seeking to run covert web sites for anything and everything.

    There really is no logical explanation to the politicians f**kwitted ignorance of this except

    a) They cannot must the 5-10 whole minutes needed to understand why what they ask for is rubbish

    b) They have that infantile faith that if they just keep asking for something long enough someone will supply it. Bit like kiddies nagging parents for latest toy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Guarantee a backdoor into every PC in a country and they will come.

      "They have that infantile faith that if they just keep asking for something long enough someone will supply it. Bit like kiddies nagging parents for latest toy."

      But what happens when the kiddie goes into "extreme tantrum" mode? Now you're forced to intervene before the kid or your house gets trashed.

      1. earl grey Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Guarantee a backdoor into every PC in a country and they will come.

        My kids never had tantrums because they simply weren't allowed. period. no exceptions and no extremes.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    They will meet in...

    Somewhere far from prying eyes to discuss something which basically allows them to go on a fishing trip with the whole population as the pool and which treats everyone as a suspect without any evidence.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not letting terrorists change our way of life...

    If we are rightly determined that terrorism should not change our way of life that should include not weakening protections we have to defend our privacy. Let alone what government messing about with encryption standards and backdoors may do to global commerce - sounds to me like the terrorists are winning if we hand over our privacy and every thing else enabled by encryption technology so easily. Yes, I know the original article was about forcing companies to break their encryption for special cases but it's a short step from there to permanent backdoors.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Politicians are like journalists...

    You listen to them and read what they say and it all makes some sort of sense until they talk about something you actually know about and then suddenly you realise what imbeciles​ they are - attracted only to the sound of their own voice (El Reg except of course ;-) )

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Politicians are like journalists...

      Politicians are used to a world where there is no such thing as a real binary choice: true or false and nothing in between. They come up against someone of a different opinion and argue, push, cajole, entice, bribe, blackmail, ... and a 'no, never' will turn into a 'maybe'.

      They don't really accept that there no such thing as a safe back-door in encryption, or anything else.

      Their reasons for doing this do not add up: they will catch a few low level crooks/terrorists/bogey-men but not the competent ones, IsisSoft Inc will not put back-doors in their code. So what is their true motivation ? It is appearing to me as increasingly totalitarian.

      If they do push ahead with then we need a mass revolt by techies - all at once. They can pick us off one by one, but not by the thousand.

      .

      This comment alone probably puts me on the terrorist watch-list - the idea that normally meek geeks will stand up is one that politicians must find terrifying.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Gimp

        "that normally meek geeks will stand up is one that politicians must find terrifying."

        Not at all.

        They don't think you have any power and they are sure they can find anyone who could cause them trouble and lock them up on something or other.

        Which actually translates as they have people who work for them who tell them that you can cause them no trouble and if you do they have other people who can deal with it.

        The average politician has very little understanding of the technology they use or how vulnerable it is. Most of this agenda is being pushed by career spookocrats, not the front line officers who know what bul***it this is. The real life equivalent of Jon Voight's character in "Enemy of the State," made 3 years before 9/11/01.

        What is most ironic is the very privacy they want to strip from everyone (in the name of "security") is the very thing that lets them keep their secrets.

        The only effective object lesson for such people would be if this came into force and someone used it to publish all such dirty laundry, from all parties.

        After all, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, right?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "that normally meek geeks will stand up is one that politicians must find terrifying."

          "After all, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, right?"

          And if a politician ACTUALLY ADHERES to that and say, "Fine by me."?

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "that normally meek geeks will stand up is one that politicians must find terrifying."

            And if a politician ACTUALLY ADHERES to that and say, "Fine by me."?

            They get challenged to do a Clarkson (no, that's not punching a production assistant).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe we should all use the same encryption that the governments use. Then when they put a backdoor in it we can all check up on what they are doing.

  19. bombastic bob Silver badge
    FAIL

    the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

    the genii of encryption has been out of the bottle for DECADES.

    PGP and its various incarnations is there for anyone who wants to use it.

    OR, you can roll your own method, NOT tell anyone else, and just hand the program to whoever you want to decrypt it via snail-mail or some other "untraceable" means [including sneakernet].

    It's like "gun control" laws, which are intended to PUNISH THE LAW ABIDING, while doing NOTHING to stop gun violence and gun crimes. After all, if you're a CRIMINAL, you don't OBEY laws. So they don't do SQUAT.

    Captain Obvious on pretty much everything implied here. Gummint idiots are just knee-jerk reacting to the FUD, without ANY understanding of the tech, the implications, or the likely results.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

      "OR, you can roll your own method, NOT tell anyone else, and just hand the program to whoever you want to decrypt it via snail-mail or some other "untraceable" means [including sneakernet]."

      Except any form of transit can be snooped. Dead drops can be watched, mail intercepted, and so on. And anything that the State cannot decrypt will likely stick out like a sore thumb, either because the MERE USE of encryption is a red flag or any attempt to use steganography beyond simple yes/no things that require prior establishment of a code (meaning it could've been moled) will cause it to stand out, too.

      And yes, I think the Panopticon is closer than anyone thinks.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

        Except any form of transit can be snooped. Dead drops can be watched, mail intercepted, and so on.

        You are talking about Traffic analysis, this is very different from breaking encryption; it is an important tool as it gives clues on who fellow terrorists/crooks/... may be. By nobbling encryption those being watched will use different communications, some of which will not be so easy for traffic analysis.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

          Not necessarily. Diverting a river tends to leave traces. Similarly, forcing people into other communication channels will tend to make them stand out, especially if the style of communication doesn't readily lend itself to obfuscation.

    2. Rattus Rattus

      Re: the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

      It's nothing like gun laws you tard.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

      "It's like "gun control" laws, which are intended to PUNISH THE LAW ABIDING, while doing NOTHING to stop gun violence and gun crimes. After all, if you're a CRIMINAL, you don't OBEY laws. So they don't do SQUAT."

      Erm....

      Trust some gun-toting American to find an opportunity to bring control into a totally unrelated debate !

      Everyone apart from the Americans can see that gun control laws work. Only the Americans continue the Wild West routine of shooting each other in substantial numbers on an almost daily basis. Meanwhile, in more civilised countries where gun control HAS been implemented, shootings are a rarity.

      Gun control works. The facts are there to prove it.

      Encryption control cannot work. The facts are there to prove it.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

        "Gun control works. The facts are there to prove it."

        You're confusing correlation with causation. Ask yourself. Are Americans shooting each other because there are more guns or are there more guns because Americans are shooting each other? What about defensive gun use? What about black market guns? Plans for building your own zip guns off the Internet. The fact there are several major gun manufacturers on American soil? What about violence in general, not just gun violence since two inches of steel from behind is as effective as a bullet?

        1. jonathan keith

          Re: the genii has been out of the bottle for DECADES

          Apparently it's a fuck sight more difficult to kill someone with a knife, up close and personal, than it is to shoot someone where you're much more psychically* removed from the situation.

          * as in psyche, not woo.

  20. DeKrow
    Holmes

    And what then?

    If new laws come to pass enforcing that which goes against the advice of all the experts on the topic, what is to be done / blamed / politicised against / axe ground upon when, inevitably, there's another "terror" attack?

    Will the five-eyes governments guarantee that these democracy-threatening, privacy-invading, human-rights eroding laws will banish the spectre of terrorism from western civilisation for as long as these laws are in effect? If not, then the risk is not worth the reward. I wouldn't sacrifice the very core of my being for a (slight lead in the polls) "somewhat likelihood of a reduction in terror-related events". But maybe that's just what separates politicians from worthwhile members of society.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "I wouldn't sacrifice the very core of my being for a (slight lead in the polls)"

      Looks like most politicians would.

      The UK figures bear repeating.

      36 dead due to terrorist incidents since 7/7/05. IE 3 extra deaths a year over a 12 year period.

      Equal to the number of people who died of smoking related illnesses in NHS hospitals over 4 hrs.

      Or about the number of deaths on UK roads for about 7.6 days in 2015.

      36 deaths is 0.0068% of all UK deaths in 2015

      Sacrifice that much freedom and privacy for that little increase in safety. I think not.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sure, you can roll your own, and then...

    Backdoored pseudo-encryption is great at monitoring the 99% who will accept -- without thinking -- any nonsense spewed by a politician who happens to be ranting in the aftermath of the latest (convenient) terror attack or kidnapping or paedophilia incident or whatever frightens the chickens these days.

    More insidious, though, will be the _next_ level of action, which will make it illegal to use any genuine form of encryption. This law will be enforced so rarely that you smug tech-heads will think you're being awfully clever, even while you provide the spooks with a perfectly legal pretext for a midnight visit any time they choose to rattle your cage and compel you to do whatever they fancy.

    A police state is inevitable when everybody is a criminal and enforcement is subject to the whims of individuals.

    A/C - for all the good it will do me.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Sure, you can roll your own, and then...

      "More insidious, though, will be the _next_ level of action, which will make it illegal to use any genuine form of encryption."

      That's what I think will be next. If you make the MERE USE of encryption (outside of State-sanctioned schemes) a criminal act, then you reduce the possible outs to steganography, which can still be severely limited (as in you can only watch so many cat videos a day before it becomes suspicious, nonsense or outlandish posts will raise red flags, plus images, videos, and text can be mangled, bleached, and so on to reduce their steganographic usefulness).

  22. Schultz
    Go

    "The privacy of a terrorist can never be more important than public safety – never."

    Indeed, and the privacy of an innocent person should never be violated - never.

    Those two statements just mean that you must identify the terrorists first before you violate their privacy. I suggest old-fashioned police work for that bit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The privacy of a terrorist can never be more important than public safety – never."

      Considering you can apparently have a bloody documentary done about you, and the police still can't catch you before you commit an attack, I'd say there might be a different problem.

  23. jonathan keith

    Let's simplify this for the hard of thinking

    Either everyone enjoys the benefits of encryption or no-one does.

  24. localzuk

    Magical thinking

    Yup, sounds like politicians to me.

    They think ignoring reality is an acceptable thing to do when it comes to boosting their poll ratings.

    Always comes back to bite them in the ass though.

  25. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    You'd think that the leaks of NSA hacking tools would give the TLA's pause...

    But I guess not. And when the key to the backdoor is inevitably linked, the TLA's will use the resulting cyber-mayhem to ask for even more unreasonable security tools that only work for the "good guys", and wash their hands of the damage that they are doing the now vulnerable citizenry.

  26. The Central Scrutinizer

    Please send me your e-mail and banking credentials George

    Australia is lurching further and further to the right. Brandis is a dangerous idiot. He has no clue what he's talking about and yet the mainstream media don't even bother to ask pertinent questions. They just parrot what he and Turnbull say without any analysis or questioning of it. I've been banging on for years about privacy invasion such as metadata retention and back doored encryption and you know, nobody is interested. People's eyes glaze over when I even mention it. As long as they can access Facebook and text their friends, they're happy.

    If official back doors do become reality, we should probably just unplug the Internet and call it a failed experiment.

  27. kmac499

    Digital 2nd Ammendment ?

    To paraphrase

    "A well regulated Internet, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear encryption, shall not be infringed."

    Silly maybe, as I'm in the UK and our fluid constitution is scribbled on dead goats. But the logical alternative to a right to digital privacy will be to treat encryption as a weapon and regulate it in the same way as firearms are in the UK. The big difference being firearms have one very simple use, to go bang and hit targets,

    Encryption however; well I don't think we need to relist encryptions uses yet again. A deliberately broken encryption system potentially puts a very large gun in a very large public rock and then

    "Whomsoever can pull this gun from the stone... "

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The privacy of a terrorist

    once we (maybe) find him / her amongst the private data of the plebs, that is, but never mind this, WE! NEED! FULL! ACCESS! NOW! FOR! YOUR! GOOD!

    and don't you ask awkward questions, citizen, because WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE and what you do online. All those smutty kat videos violating oh, the multitude of laws...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Support privacy friendly apps and services

    Geez who put these cryptosauruses in power? Terrorists will just find another way to communicate. The rest of the world will suffer, they will have to give up their privacy aka freedom in order to fight terrorists that want to destroy our freedoms? Its clear to me who the real terrorists are.

    Get VPN (privatoria) ditch Google (Startpage.com) get a ad blocker (Ghostery) and a private messager (Signal).

    1. nijam

      Re: Support privacy friendly apps and services

      > Terrorists will just find another way to communicate.

      They already have.

  30. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    This really has nothing to do with terrorists

    It really is about "Find me 6 lines from an honest man and I'll find something with which to hang him."

    This desire to know everything, about everyone. To store every aspect of peoples lives forever is a compulsive illness.

    It is grossly disproportionate to the real threat. It is an obsession with no rational basis in logic.

  31. Wolfclaw Silver badge
    FAIL

    People wouldn't mind so much a secure back door, if there ever could be one, for intelligence agencies to monitor for crimes, is just we don't trust them, as they are have a bad habit of breaking the laws themselves and getting away with it !!

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Yes they would mind. I would mind. There's nothing to trust. Power corrupts, always, no exceptions. I don't want anyone with that kind of power over me - or you. ANYONE.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "People wouldn't mind so much a secure back door, if there ever could be one,"

      That seems a pragmatic attitude, and hence apparently undeserving of the down votes.

      Except the evidence from other situations is that people will abuse available powers.

      Because they are people.

      Like "Global Thermonuclear War," the only winning move is not to play.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: "People wouldn't mind so much a secure back door, if there ever could be one,"

        "Like "Global Thermonuclear War," the only winning move is not to play."

        But what if your opponent views MAD as a winning scenario?

  32. nijam

    A good case could be made that it's the Five Eyes gang who are the organised criminals and terrorists. Not that I would dream of doing so myself...

  33. handleoclast
    FAIL

    That makes perfect sense

    Some of them have realized that there is no way of inserting a backdoor into encryption that only the good guys will be able to use but the bad guys will not.

    So full marks to them for coming up with a much better alternative. Put a backdoor into the phone that only the good guys will be able to use but the bad guys will not.

    Perfect!

    What drugs are these people on that allow them to be so disconnected from reality? I want some.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: That makes perfect sense

      "What drugs are these people on that allow them to be so disconnected from reality? I want some."

      I.G.N.O.R.A.N.C.E.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about this.

    Fuck no.

  35. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    I want magic bullets that only hurt bad guys.

  36. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    Pointless

    If legitimate companies have to put back doors in all their encryption schemes doesn't that just mean terrorists will buy their encryption from criminals or roll their own? All this is going to do is degrade the encryption used by regular law-abiding citizens.

    Not only that, I feel like it will backfire spectacularly, like the "Clipper Chip" fiasco. When technical issues are decided upon by people who do not understand them at all we always end up with a ridiculous and unworkable solution.

    1. DeKrow

      Re: Pointless

      If legitimate companies have to put back doors in all their encryption schemes doesn't that just mean terrorists will buy their encryption from criminals or roll their own?

      I actually see it going a different way. If legitimate companies have to put back doors in all their encryption schemes doesn't that just mean terrorists will target these back doors, and if (when) successful, will have the keys to all the kingdoms and thus be able to cause much larger scale terror than a few suicide bombs ever could.

      mumble groan law of unintended consequences grumble moan concentration of power creates a more likely target something something.

  37. captain_solo

    The U.S. Constitution spends a much larger portion of its content seeking to protect the citizens from their government than any external threats. The fact that in general 'mericans tend to distrust their government is a heritage that goes all the way back to the start.

    If i'm not mistaken the oath of office taken by government officials might actually mention defending the document in question and not just generally defending the United States as a nebulous patriotic idea? You wouldn't try to convince me that they don't actually intend to do that, would you? I mean those speeches in front of the flag are so sincere.

    Eliminating secure comms will only open a second front on the regular folks who will have to worry about being criminalized by the voluminous and out of control regulations of every area of life and the economy as well as the fact that at that point just using encryption could label you as a terrorist threat instead of only being at risk from terror/criminal elements. I hope at some point the nerds get through to their bosses that most of these ideas would actually hurt the ability of the government to keep their own secrets secret, but won't hold my breath. It will be private sector devs in both corporate and open source projects that make these kinds of political stupidities irrelevant.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      There's only one problem. The law in the end is just ink on a page. Present enough power and you can simply ignore it.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Present enough power and you can simply ignore it."

        History says that in the long run you lose.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          History says that in the long run EVERYONE loses, usually because of the aforesaid display of enough power to say, "My rule!" The Americans got enough help to force the British out of the colonies, Texas won its independence by cornering the Mexican Army. The communist uprisings in Russia, China, and Cuba, and so on. Until recently, lots of transitions of power were...ugly, to say the least, especially if lineages petered out.

  38. JLV Silver badge

    We need to communicate risks better

    Starting to talk about encryption math loses everyone. Most of us too, I assume. Let's make it simpler.

    You want to leave a key by your house, in case you lose your key. The stereotypical "key under the mat".

    There is no way to do that safely if you assume many smart bad guys will spend a lot of time trying to find that key. It's a weakness and it can be used to break in.

    People understand that intuitively and we need to force proponents of backdoors to explain how it's different, even as all the experts in that field say it really isn't.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We need to communicate risks better

      "There is no way to do that safely if you assume many smart bad guys will spend a lot of time trying to find that key. It's a weakness and it can be used to break in."

      But what if the counter is, "But we MUST have it in case we're locked out! It's a bad neighborhood to be stranded out at night!"

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: We need to communicate risks better

        But that has still shifted the debate from "trust us, it'll be safe, there's a way" to "you have to give up some security, not _just_ privacy, because we need it for public safety". Let them make an honest case for it if they can.

        A very different debate from "enough is enough, only bad guys benefit from strong encryption" which is where so many of our leaders are starting from.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "It's a bad neighborhood to be stranded out at night!""

        The answer is "Call a locksmith, " who you will have on speed dial, since you're clearly terrified of just about everything. You're not Jacqui Smith (the former UK Home Secretary) are you?

        And there is a security equivalent to a locksmith in all cases.

        But just like a locksmith you have to establish you really are the home owner, or rather you have "probable cause" to need to do this.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "It's a bad neighborhood to be stranded out at night!""

          "The answer is "Call a locksmith, " who you will have on speed dial, since you're clearly terrified of just about everything. You're not Jacqui Smith (the former UK Home Secretary) are you?"

          Nope. Locksmith doesn't operate at night, and he won't come to my neighborhood anyway, especially at night.

  39. earl grey Silver badge
    Flame

    Privacy = virginity

    Once it's gone; it's gone forever. It doesn't matter when, how, who, or what kind of story you have about it; it's gone.

  40. John Savard Silver badge

    Phrased Correctly

    Why, it is true that the privacy of a terrorist is of no importance when set against public safety.

    Now, if they could find a way to take away the privacy of terrorists without taking it away from everyone else, there would be no problem.

    Having police who can be trusted tapping phone lines does not seem to me like a terrible problem in itself. Generally speaking, in democratic nations, the police have had a good record of not using the ability to do insider trading, steal credit card numbers, engage in blackmail or voyeurism, and so on; they really have been just using bugs and taps to find real criminals.

    The problem with encryption restrictions, though, is that to enforce them one limits what people can do with their own computers - and they make people more vulnerable to criminals doing eavesdropping. The thing to do is find other ways to address terrorism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Phrased Correctly

      The problem behind the problem, though, is that most of the problems are nigh-intractable in nature, usually because they're reinforced by centuries if not millennia of resentment/grudges, mainly of a "because you exist" nature, or are part of a greater sovereign struggle. If there were a better solution, we'd have used it already, but the bad news is that there's no magic bullet. ANY solution you try is going to be costly and unpopular, and elected governments have the hardest time trying to deal with necessary but unpopular things.

  41. JJKing Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:"

    Generally speaking, in democratic nations, the police have had a good record of not using the ability to do insider trading, steal credit card numbers, engage in blackmail or voyeurism, and so on; they really have been just using bugs and taps to find real criminals.

    Oh yes and didn't that work so well for the bastion of integrity when it was run under the auspices of J Edgar Hoover.

    So what happens when the 9th Wonder of the World, Quantum Computers, become a viable reality? If they work as per the writing on the box, encryption will be a thing of the past (or so I am led to believe). Will that not far cup the TLAs, terry wrists and our secret messages?

    If politicians really do become a massive menace to our privacy and the freedom of Apple, Google, Facebook and other such company's CEOs, what is to stop them throwing a few Beeellion dollars of loose change at an election and choose their own "friendly" candidates. A couple of Billion $$ and they could practically buy the US Presidency. Now if they only had access to some social media.......

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:"

      "So what happens when the 9th Wonder of the World, Quantum Computers, become a viable reality? If they work as per the writing on the box, encryption will be a thing of the past (or so I am led to believe). Will that not far cup the TLAs, terry wrists and our secret messages?"

      What makes you think a working quantum computer doesn't already exist (it probably resides in Utah concealed and fueled by the data center there)? Isn't that why post-quantum encryption is being developed and why quantum cryptography (put the same weapon to your use) is being worked on as well?

  42. Cyril

    This is already covered under established case law in the US

    One of the established principals in US case law is "Chilling effect". A practice that interferes with 1st Amendment protection by causing a person to change their speech out of fear of authority is illegal under the Constitution.

    Forcing backdoors into all communication will result in a chilling effect on communications. Thus it is illegal under the Constitution. So they can make all the laws they want to force holes into encryption. But it will not survive a legal challenge. Any company making money from providing secure communications or storage will benefit financially from getting this law overturned, thus they are required by law to challenge this law in court to provide the best return for their stockholders.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: This is already covered under established case law in the US

      They'll just IGNORE the Constitution. It's just ink on a page if you have the power. What will you do then? Stand alone against nukes? Remember, no government can stand for long against an opposition of sufficient power. That's why coups can still work.

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