back to article Here we go again: US govt tells Facebook to kill end-to-end encryption for the sake of the children

The US government is renewing its efforts to talk tech firms out of using end-to-end encryption methods that would keep police from snooping on conversations. The Department of Justice on Friday held what it dubbed the "Lawful Access Summit," a morning-long presentation aimed at convincing people that police must be able to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

    "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that" the police should have a key to our houses, either.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

      Typically they employ handheld battering rams to get through locked doors, but if you had a solidly build house (i.e. reinforced concrete) and had a steel door with a frame held in by bolts sunk several inches deep in that concrete, and a deadbolt with a long throw that went through the frame into the concrete they'd be unable to get in. Assuming all the windows were barred etc. and that door had one of the "pick proof" locks on it. They aren't really pick proof, but you can assume the cops wouldn't have a locksmith who is an expert on the particular type of lock you have and even then it would take a while.

      They could use a cutting torch to get through that steel door (or the barred windows) of course, but you'd plenty of time to flush your drugs and reset the phone you use for crime to defaults and restore the innocuous backup where you are texting cat pictures to your girlfriend. Then turn your TV on REALLY loud and tell them you couldn't hear them knocking when they burst in with guns drawn and find you watching SpongeBob.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        Militaries get the kit that they need to overcome/deter another nation state, Plod gets the kit they need to overcome/deter the public from stepping too far out of line.

        You've just described a bunker - One simple law gets passed and plod can turn up with an laser guided inert 1 tonne 'door knocker' dropped from a great height without prior notice.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

          That isnt a bunker. We put our own double glazing into our house. Most companies will probably just use a lot of silicone and expanding foam. We used pretty substantial anchor bolts around our frames, they certainly would withstand battering and the frame would warp before completely giving in. The glass is the weakpoint but you couldnt fit through the door pane, you would need to go through the window panes - thats what the fire department would do.

          we dont have burglar bars but if I was a dealer then certainly these could be put up with some substantial anchor bolts also. Hardly a bunker, just installed properly.

          Ive seen those police camera programs where some dealers have done precisely that, have a decent installed apartment door with no downstairs windows - it took a few people giving it some welly on the police door opener before the door warped enough to give some leverage. Funnily enough once raided it seemed that someone had just taken a long dump whilst 4 people are sat about smoking with a large wad of cash each.

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        The thing is the police already have the digital equivalent of battering the door down - they can locate a person's phone and seize it. Even if encrypted, as we have seen before, there are probably ways to crack it open but that costs time, money, and needs a court order so would be used sparingly and with probable cause. No problem with that.

        What is being asked for is a key to everyone's home so ant officer can pop in with practically no oversight to look around, and to me that is simply unacceptable.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Gimp

          "but that costs time, money, and needs a court order"

          IE Real police work.

          This is lazy, fishing trip surveillance of everyone with the usual BS of TOTC

          Was this the guy who Trump picked over more senior bureaucrats because he would say the Muller investigation gave Trump a clean bill of health.

          He may not look much like a weasel but he sure acts like one.

          1. rnturn

            Re: "but that costs time, money, and needs a court order"

            > He may not look much like a weasel but he sure acts like one.

            That's because he is a weasel. He's also the "cleaner" brought in to do away with the Iran-Contra investigations back in the early '90s. If there's any justice in this world, he's headed to the John N.Mitchell Memorial Prison Cell for an extended stay.

        2. Dave 15

          Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

          But if they went battering everyone door down every day and went through your underwear people would not accept that. Having a backdoor or front door in security means they can do the equivalent, and just as smashing everyone's door down they render everyone vulnerable to criminals

      3. Pier Reviewer

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        “but you'd plenty of time to flush your drugs and reset the phone you use for crime to defaults and restore the innocuous backup”

        The coppers got wise to flushing a long whiles back. They already prep contingencies for that :) Your “best” bet is to swallow them with a shit ton* of Imodium and hope the 24 hour detention expires before the Imodium (or you if the bag breaks - lol).

        Phone resets aren’t necessarily 100% copper proof. As you say, it depends how high up the pyramid you are. For a big enough target DFIR might be used to pull old data from the phone. For a grunt tho chances are the phone goes into a massive black hole (not the same one the drugs went in).

        As for not hearing the armed cops - prolly fine if you’re white. It carries additional risk of things getting loud for other ethnicities...

        —-

        * pun not entirely intended

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

          I put nude photos of myself on the phone - the cops will regret breaking my encryption.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

            At the very least they'll sue you for psychological damage from viewing them

            1. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

              At the very least they'll sue you for psychological damage from viewing them,

              In my case - all that stuff about "re-victimisation" when sharing pictures would be proven true. Of course, I won't be the victim - it'll be anyone who sees such pictures of me.

              Anyway, in my case it'd never get to court (just noticed how much it rhymes with "caught" - coinkydink?) - there's "contempt of court" and then, well, there's asking the judge/jury/lawyers (even noticed how much that rhymes with 'liars"?) etc to view nude shots of me. In fact I think there'll be plenty of shots - self-medicating of the hot-lead variety..

              (Where's the "Oh the horror!" icon?)

          2. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

            I make a point of keeping my secrets inside a copy of On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, because the nit-wit populists don't appear to be capable of reading that.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        My kids watch SpongeBob...are you suggesting they're up to something?

        They're one and four years old...I never suspected a thing.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

          My kids watch SpongeBob...are you suggesting they're up to something?

          I never would've made the link but.. At the time of writing (ie before my post corrupts the flow), immediately below your post was a post by "Bombastic Bob".

          Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

      well said!

      More people (particularly those in gummint) need to connect the dots on that point.

      /me offers a cluebat for that purpose

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

      What this world needs is an open source non-centralized end-to-end encryption chat app designed from the ground up with the assumption that governments will try to block it's functioning.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        private IRC server with SSL might do it, located outside of the USA where subpoenas get laughed at

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

          And if they just start cutting the routes off or flagging everyone going to that address?

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      3. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        These exist. Retroshare, for example. Not many people use them though.

    4. onemark03

      Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

      To repeat a post of mine in El Reg. from 2017, someone seriously suggested back in the 1990s that all residents here in Germany be legally required to hand a copy of their house-key to the local law for emergency entry during absence. The idea was dropped after a howl of public protest.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        That would have been nonsense anyway, because the police _can_ get through practically any door if they have to. (And there are cases where there is good reason, even in the best interest of the occupier). And those they can’t get through, what are the chances that the key would have worked.

        1. Dave 15

          Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

          Point is this allows them to do this to every household every day. Worse is that the mechanism will be the equivalent to leaving your doors and windows open, a cup of tea and instructions for the thief to where everything valuable is.

          Usual I'll thought through crap from stupid idiot law makers. Why the he'll do people give these morons any power or responsibility?

    5. Joseba4242

      Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

      Outside the digital world we do actually accept that that police with a warrant can enter your house through any means necessary.

      This is NOT a proposal to have a global externally held decryption key that can be used without Facebook's authorisation or knowledge.

      1. oddie

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        Enter your house yes, through any means necessary no.

        For instance they arent (yet) allowed to request/demand the keys to everyones house, in case they later need to pop in, with or without a warrant.

        Whether the proposal is for a global decryption key, or decryption keys specific to each encrypted channel , the fact remains that if a 3rd party (be that the police, your local neighbourhood pedophile, facebook, a foreign state, criminals, your mom etc) has access to decrypt your data, then its no longer safe (because we encrypt to stay safe). If one of those 3rd parties has access then they potentially all do.

        The takeaway from this should be that the different aparatus that we accept to limit our freedoms in return for greater safety (the police, the justice system, local regulations) must themselves be kept in check in order that they dont exceed their mandates (which they recently have gone to great lengths to do).

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

          "For instance they arent (yet) allowed to request/demand the keys to everyones house, in case they later need to pop in, with or without a warrant"

          They're allowed to request it (in the US, anyway). The cops can request anything they like. What they aren't allowed to do is compel it.

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        There's a difference: In one case you know you have been searched. In the other you may have no idea what's going on.

        Another difference: In one case you are searched at a particular point in time. In the other you may be scrutinised for years without your knowledge.

      3. Dave 15

        Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

        It is exactly that.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Outside the digital world, none of us would accept the proposition that"

      Years ago, the police often had keys to local businesses. I still remember the scandal growing up that erupted when it turned out that thefts from local businesses were being investigated ... by the same police that committed them. (They must have learned their skills -- and morals -- from the mayor's and building inspector's offices who were investigated by the state police for all sorts of illegal activities.)

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  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So we are to believe that once they have the necessary backdoors in place

    Organised crime will be a thing of the past?

    Pull the other one.

    1. Snake

      Re: Backdoors

      "So we are to believe that once they have the necessary backdoors in place, organised crime will be a thing of the past?"

      No. Sadly it seems that bankers and politicians will always survive, just like cockroaches.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Backdoors

        Quote:

        No. Sadly it seems that bankers and politicians will always survive, just like cockroaches.

        OI! us cockroaches have a sense of honour that prevent us from being bankers or politicians, we may survive nuclear war and fill your apartment up with our spawn, but we dont spy on you and sell the information to your rivals.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: So we are to believe that once they have the necessary backdoors in place

      back doors are only "NECESSARY" when police are *LAZY*

      Oh, yeah, that whole "individual rights" and "illegal search/seizure" thing just GETS IN *THEIR* WAY, after all...

      </sarcasm>

      icon, because, more sarcasm

  4. asdf Silver badge

    Watch your back

    Not long now until Moxie Marlinspike becomes an official enemy of the state and winds up in Supermax.

    1. moiety

      Re: Watch your back

      Considering that you can't access Telegram unless you have a Google account, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he was an intelligence stunt.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Watch your back

        You confused Telegram with Signal

        1. moiety

          Re: Watch your back

          I did. Good catch.

          EDIT: Mind you, Telegram doesn't have a direct download either...the link takes you straight to Google's playstore where you also have to sign in to download.

          1. Mr. Flibble

            Re: Watch your back

            It's also available on f-droid:

            https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.telegram.messenger/ apparently with some tracking crap taken out.

            I use it, and so far, so good....

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Watch your back

              "I use it, and so far, so good...."

              You could only possibly know that if you were doing seriously illegal shit with it and haven't yet been caught...

              1. pmb00cs
                Trollface

                Re: Watch your back

                I also use signal and think it works well.

                *whistles innocently*

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Watch your back

              I use it, and so far, so good....

              You're side-loading apks you randomly downloaded off teh interwebz and so far, so good...

              If your reason for doing so is to increase your personal security, I'll just take the opportunity to ask whether you compiled it from source yourself, after carefully reviewing that source, understanding it, and then guaranteeing that your tool chain is exploit-free (which, famously, is very, very difficult to do without acting on faith at some point).

              I know, that's taking things to the logical extreme, but the point I am allusing to, is that if you're side-loading something on the grounds that it's more secure, because "some crap has been taken out", you really can't guarantee that some other crap hasn't been put in, at some point, by actors unknown, and unless you are absolutely scrupulous in black-box testing it, you'll never know if, for instance, that app is 'phoning back to those unknown actors.

              1. asdf Silver badge

                Re: Watch your back

                F-Droid AFAIK (haven't paid attention in last couple of years though) has never had malware sneak through which obviously isn't the case with the Play store which more than likely has hundreds if not thousands of malware available as I write this.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Watch your back

                  And yes, F-Droid usually demands the source code and tries to compile it itself before publishing (if for any reason it can't, such as requiring a non-free library, the repo flags this as an anti-feature).

  5. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    I wonder how Facebook is going to implement the encryption

    Given that people use Facebook Messenger on a wide variety of devices, and not uncommon to use multiple devices simultaneously, I wonder how Facebook is going to implement encryption. If its per-account, then there'd have to be some kind of infrastructure to allow the key to be copied between devices, at which point Facebook could incept it, if they aren't hosting the key itself. Per-device would be more secure, but a lot of people aren't going to like it since that means their messages are only readable on the device itself and require the implementation of some kind of key-negotiation and some method of re-verifying the recipient each time they switch between devices.

    But, regardless, the police could still acquire the unencrypted data legally. First, get a wiretap to collect the encrypted data, then get a subpoena to get the key from one of the ends. Simple as that. But that requires them to actually comply with the Constitution...

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: I wonder how Facebook is going to implement the encryption

      Given that Facebook is primarily used on mobile and laptops, there's an even easier way to get the data.

      For phones, use the baseband backdoor.

      For laptops, use the ME/PSP backdoor.

      This is either a well-engineered smear attempt to make Messenger look secure (and therefore push stupid people to publish incriminating information on it) or complete cluelessness regarding the existing access mechanisms.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Re: I wonder how Facebook is going to implement the encryption

        I expect that the US Government has dozens of ways of getting into a device and extracting data. I was just mentioning one that a reasonable person would consider the legal method to do so (IE, going through the appropriate channels rather than subverting the basic Civil Rights on which the nation was founded)

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I wonder how Facebook is going to implement the encryption

      most likely the clients will do the encryption, as well as "send home to mama" all of the things you type in so they can target you with ads and sell your data based on your 'chat'. But of course that 'send home to mama' data will be encrypted, too...

    3. tkatz

      Re: I wonder how Facebook is going to implement the encryption

      Wouldn't they just use PKI and generate a key pair per device and store the public key in a key-chain on their servers? Then if someone wants to send you a message, their client grabs all the public keys for your account, and then encrypts the AES (or whatever symmetric encryption is used) key using each one of those keys and pushes that along with the encrypted message to the server. Then your client pulls down the message and decrypts the key using the devices private key. When you reply, the same thing happens (using the remote ends public key).

      I believe this is how Apple does encryption with iMessage.

    4. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: I wonder how Facebook is going to implement the encryption

      If its per-account, then there'd have to be some kind of infrastructure to allow the key to be copied between devices, at which point Facebook could incept it, if they aren't hosting the key itself.

      I use Viber on tablet/laptop. When I've wanted to add a new device it's given a QR-code to link the account to the new device. One device acts as an overall 'master' or 'primary'

      After adding a new device there's an option to sync data between them, which is not automatic.

      It'd be quite feasible to have the devices use separate keys and talk to each other direct

  6. David 45

    Idiot politicians

    I would hope that all the companies approached would tell the joint signatories to poke the letter where the sun doesn't shine. I am getting sick and tired of hearing about "lawful access" (especially from that twit, Barr!) to get past encryption - as if there's a way of doing this without the bad guys also getting in, as they will, sure as the sun rises every day! Betcha they are rubbing their collective sticky little hands together as I speak. What a glorious prospect to get hold of bank details, personal information and goodness' knows what else. I despair.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Idiot politicians

      nudge nudge wink wink, kick this silly idea into the long grass, there's a nice job in it for you when you leave the legislature

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Idiot politicians

        and if that doesn't work - you don't want 'those' pictures to be seen do you?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Idiot politicians

      Barr and Priti (Treasonous) Patel seem to be getting very chummy. (According to the Daily Torygraph)

      The current HomeSec REALLY seems to like conspiring with foreign officials.

    3. Inkey
      Stop

      Re: Idiot politicians

      Is it more likely that all this snooping is costing the man big money? Could it be that the douch bag barr would just like big tech giant's to ease the financial burden a bit?... (cough... cooshy job after office for you... Mr barr cough)

      And about all the $ being spent on survalence how about end to end encryption at a solid state level, for all digital coms. Spend the $ on uplifting the most vulnerable and caring for people who might otherwise find it difficult to mind their own business... I use the word "caring" loosely..

      This terror and pedo trope was a sham from the start.. Let's put everyone's data where the sun don't shine... Or have total transparency on everyone's data... Bet you barr and the spies have more dirty laundry than most of humanity

    4. osmarks

      Re: Idiot politicians

      They're not idiots. I think they know exactly what they're doing.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Idiot politicians

        If so they hide it very well. Hashtags Rudd certainly did.

  7. HildyJ
    Gimp

    Baby got back door

    This is all about a push by Five Eyes to get access to unencrypted communications whenever they feel the need. Now it's child abusers because the terrorist argument has lost its mojo and the dark web is too nebulous. Besides, Facebook has become an easy target. They won't stop until they have a backdoor to everything and you can stick your privacy up your personal back door.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Baby got back door

      really "for the children" is just a (yet another) method by which PEOPLE ARE MANIPULATED BY THE PUPPETEERS.

      icon, because, sarcasm

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Sure.... why not?

    But government needs to set the example of how to implement this. Oh.. and no secret servers in the WH basement or Hillary's back room (let's be fair here..). Once they do it and prove it that it's unhackable, then everyone else can go along with the program. Until then, they can f**k off and good for Widen for taking the side of security and encryption.

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Sure.... why not?

      I've previously promoted this concept of the government going first, the only down side is that in order to prove its not secure it's going to need to be broken. If you're attempting to hack the US government you're going away if they catch you. And that might not be prison,,,

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Sure.... why not?

        If you're attempting to hack the US government you're going away if they catch you. And that might not be prison,,,

        I dunno.. A "Here's a list of the emails sent from your wife's account, they will be published if I die or disappear within the next 20 years" could guarantee you a good life. Or a visit with a "therapist" who takes "acupuncture" to new extremes.

        Of course... If you send that list from your ex-wife's email account, you'll never miss an alimony payment again...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Sure.... why not?

          I dunno. "Send them, I don't care. I'm already talking to a divorce attorney." Blackmail has no value if the victim doesn't value it. Might be better to threaten to have a compromising deepfake ready to go (and there are still some moral event horizons even they don't want to cross).

    2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Re: Sure.... why not?

      for the sake of political fairness, dont forget the Mail Servers in Jarred and Ivanka's House

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Sure.... why not?

        for the sake of political fairness, dont forget the Mail Servers in Jarred and Ivanka's House

        They don't count. They're good people and could only ever be doing stuff for good reasons, even if they're breaking the law and being utter hypocrites in the process. Hillary, on the other hand, is a milt-convicted criminal who is only free because of her political power which by her deviousness is stronger than President Trump's ability to keep his oft-repeated promises to "LOCK HER UP!".

        (And if they ever were caught doing anything illegal, well there's that whole "presidential pardon" thing so while chump's in power it's probably not worth doing much about it)

  9. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Forget the kiddies

    Kids get used all of the time in battle cries to embrace some sort of intrusion. Well, I don't care about them. It's their parents responsibility to look after them and if the parents can't be bothered, the kids aren't in with much of a chance. There are enough stories in the news that parents should be keeping closer tabs on what their kids are getting up to online, whom them associate with digitally and the sorts of virtual places they visit. I'll even go so far as to suggest that providing kids with fully provisioned mobiles, tablets and computers in their rooms is not healthy. Nobody would argue that parents should know where their kids are in the physical world at all times. Stricter when they are younger and in general as they get older and show more responsibility. The digital world can be just as dangerous. A bit of hazing/bullying and a kid may become suicidal. Not even very much coercion could convince them to slip out of the house at 2am for a rendezvous with an online "friend". A friend they have more contact with than their parents.

    Giving The Man® free access to anybody's communications isn't going to improve security. I'd be happier to see a system that gives parents the ability to screen messages to and from their young children with alerts for phrases that could indicate a serious issue. Mostly though, the best approach is never going to be one that starts with the government.

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Forget the kiddies

      Don't know about you; But I'm of the generation that was fed, watered & promptly booted from the house (After chores) and told to be back by lunchtime (Or lunch would be in the dog). Then back by dark.

      Meeting a "friend" you met online, would have been up there with getting in strangers cars and/or accepting sweets from strangers. My childhood would probably be now considered neglect or abuse, From my point of view it was awesome; We always travelled in a pack and woe betide anyone getting on the wrong side of the feral pack of brats we undoubtedly were!

      If a little bullying would be enough to induce suicide then I'd probably be dead already many times over. NOTE: Not saying bullying is OK in any way shape or form; It is however a fact of life you need to learn to deal with.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Forget the kiddies

        Did our pack ever fight your pack I wonder....

      2. Andrew Jones 2

        Re: Forget the kiddies

        As someone who was bullied at School for being too tall and also being adopted.... Going home and school holidays were an escape from the bullying. If however the bullying followed me home and was essentially 24/7 then I doubt I would be here now.

        I largely had the same childhood too (apart from abuse by the birth parents) - free to roam the neighborhood. The popular hang out was Jelly Island, which I kid you not, was an island in the middle of a swamp, the only way to get on the island was to walk across a tree which had fallen or a narrow plank of wood. Jumping up and down on the island made it wobble like Jelly... It was probably incredibly dangerous, though no-one ever fell in to it. I'd imagine parents would have had a heart attack if they had had something like real-time tracking.

        If we got up to something naughty, our parents knew, because someone would tell them at the house, or phone them.

        My biggest issue with this constant pressure that law enforcement most be able to access our messages to prevent terrorism etc, is that we are told after each terror attempt that "they were known to law enforcement" so they already have the tools to identify terror suspects, but they claim they need more.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Forget the kiddies

          "If however the bullying followed me home and was essentially 24/7 then I doubt I would be here now."

          this is why parents need to teach their kids HOW TO FIGHT THE BULLIES and stand up to them and kick their sorry asses into silence and/or submission.

          This reminds me of that "bully video" of the kid being harassed in an Australian school. Finally he was sick of it and he picked up the harassing kid (who was much smaller than him) and head-slammed him into the ground. All of the usual whiny socialists complained. I thought it was *PERFECT* and a *SOLID* example of how you deal with bullying.

          And the thing is, when you're an adult, the bullying doesn't stop... it just changes form. So when you learn to FIGHT BACK and *WIN* as a kid, it's a life lesson for SUCCESS.

          1. Spasticus Autisticus

            Re: Forget the kiddies

            I was slightly bullied at school, in two cases I remember I retaliated to the surprise of the bully - one who found himself held by the throat backed over a table, the other* kicked hard on the knee so he couldn't catch me as I ran :-) - attack is the best form of defence against bullying.

            * I was told he joined the Met. Police, where I suspect he continued to be an arsehole.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Forget the kiddies

              I was told he joined the Met. Police, where I suspect he continued to be an arsehole.

              Funny that.. A few of mine also went that way. Seems pretty common actually....

          2. Suricou Raven Silver badge

            Re: Forget the kiddies

            That may have worked once, when schools had a slightly higher tolerance for violence. These days, it's easier to punish he who threw the first punch than to prove verbal bullying - and you can be sure the parents of the bully will not rest until they see 'justice' done. Many bullies are even aware of this, and deliberately goat their target into starting a fight so they can then run to the teachers.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Forget the kiddies

              Yes, the 'he started it sir!' excuse.

              At my secondary school, if you dared not to pay the 'for your protection' tithe to the gang then you got beated up. They'd use the 'he started it' excuse even though you are cut and bruised and they did't have a mark on them AND they'd get away with it.

              I could not wait to leave the day after my 15th birthday(that ages me). Many of the gang served time incluing two with 'life sentences'.

              Even now when I go back to that town, I give a shudder. It was a shithole then and still is.

          3. CBM

            Re: Forget the kiddies

            Moral of that story, if you are a violent sociopath built like a truck, that no one in their right mind would retaliate against, you are allowed to bully whoever you like with impunity.

            I was bullied terribly in primary school. Most bullies are pretty good at violence, you are just giving them a fee pass to "hit you back", since now you have broken the rules too. Telling you to fight back is just an asshole way to blame the victim.

          4. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Forget the kiddies

            this is why parents need to teach their kids HOW TO FIGHT THE BULLIES and stand up to them and kick their sorry asses into silence and/or submission.

            Not exactly easy when you're 6 or 7 and the youngest of them is 10 or 11 - and note the "them"

            This reminds me of that "bully video" of the kid being harassed in an Australian school. Finally he was sick of it and he picked up the harassing kid (who was much smaller than him) and head-slammed him into the ground. All of the usual whiny socialists complained. I thought it was *PERFECT* and a *SOLID* example of how you deal with bullying.

            Yeah rah rah rah beat them into a puddle rah rah rah use the same stuff on them as they did to you rah rah rah...

            Beating one or two of them can help, true. But it doesn't always and sometimes is the worst thing long-term. Teach a kid that they can get their way with their fists and. well, I'm sure you're smart enough to work the rest out.

            --> About the closest we have to a puddle...

          5. mr-slappy

            Re: Forget the kiddies

            "I thought it was *PERFECT* and a *SOLID* example of how you deal with bullying"

            I sincerely hope that you are not involved in any way in dealing with children or young people!!

            Of course bullying is a terrible thing and needs to be dealt with robustly, but your proposed solution is ill-informed, unlikely to succeed and frankly barbaric.

            The image of the bully as an empowered sadist does not reflect reality in my experience (primary school governor for 20 years). More often than not the bully is him/herself being bullied or abused at home. (Go on a local authority safeguarding training course if you want to hear some truly horrific case studies.)

            All they will learn from your approach is how to become even more violent and will likely end up as an adult doing someone some serious harm. A more nuanced approach will still protect the victim but also may be able to turn the bully around from the path they have taken.

            I look forward to all the well-informed, courteous and adult and response to this post...

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Coffee/keyboard

              Re: Forget the kiddies

              I look forward to all the well-informed, courteous and adult and response to this post...

              Please tell me where and when you're performing! I'd dearly love to see your comedy show, even if I have to sell all I have and all a few other people have for travel expenses!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Forget the kiddies

              "The image of the bully as an empowered sadist does not reflect reality in my experience."

              They do from my experience (both firsthand and through living next to a school for a number of years). There are two types of bullies. You describe the broken bully who bullies because he/she is bullied him/herself. The other type is the one I saw: the sadistic sociopath who gets off on bullying and has the connections to get away with it, such as being child to a prominent community figure or being genius enough to compromise grown-ups. The first type may balk if retaliated because he/she may not be used to the cornered mouse, though as you note if the bully is him/herself cornered, the result may well be escalation instead. As for the second type, they take getting away with it into consideration so will have plans in place in case of retaliation.

              That said, something more sophisticated may also be lost on them, one because they're too full of violence to recognize anything else, the other because they're too smart for that. At some point, you may have to throw up your hands and realize you're dealing with a hopeless reject.

        2. SonofRojBlake

          Re: Forget the kiddies

          "If however the bullying followed me home and was essentially 24/7 then I doubt I would be here now."

          I'm lucky, I'm an adult. It's not a legal requirement for me to use Facebook, so I can simply make the choice not to use it if I don't like what I encounter there.

          I feel sorry for all these kids whose parents force them to go online, the way my parents forced me to go to school (where the bullies were).

          I would prefer to live in a world where using Facebook and Snapchat and Twitter and Whatsapp and Instagram and (etc. etc.) were a CHOICE, because then kids could simply opt out of that kind of bullying. I can but dream.

      3. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Forget the kiddies

        Yep, it's up there with advertising being the reason kids are fat. It's simple parents, learn to say no to your children. When I was a child we had no choice but to watch the adverts, there wasn't any other choice unless you used a VCR to record the programs and then fast forward though the adverts, but your average VHS didn't have the capacity for doing that en masse. However parents in those days (IME) sent their children out to play and sweets or junk food was a reward and a treat, not a regular occurrence.

        I am 100% against government and/or ISPlevel web filtering. However parents with children abslolutely should be able to implement web blocking and decide for themselves what their children can and can't see or do online.

        I am absolutely sick of the blame culture we live in. Even more sick of governments using it as an excuse to further erode our freedoms.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Forget the kiddies

          "It's simple parents, learn to say no to your children."

          Some won't take no for an answer...and have learned ways to make enough of a scene to get the cops summoned. Enough of those can get Child Protective Services or the like involved.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Forget the kiddies

        "Don't know about you; But I'm of the generation that was fed, watered & promptly booted from the house (After chores)"

        Yes, that was the routine when I was growing up. Chores, breakfast, chores, play, lunch, chores, play, dinner, chores, a little TV and bed. The chores weren't that bad and didn't take long. We had horses, dogs, cats, chickens and for a while, rabbits. Some chores were projects I did with gramps during the summer when G&G would park their caravan at dad and stepmom's house to escape the heat where their house was. Loads of fun and I learned more about building stuff than any school would teach.

        The only time I could stay inside is if it was hissing down rain. That was after chores were done. The horses still need to be fed.

        I got my share of bullying, but I was also backed up by my friends so it wasn't bad or too frequent. Online, one could be bombarded relentlessly and rather cruelly.

        I'm glad I was raised "free-range".

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Forget the kiddies

      "Kids get used all of the time in battle cries to embrace some sort of intrusion"

      The face of a child on a poster representing the erosion of your freedom, yeah.

      Recent example of this kind of manipulation attempt: Greta. I'll leave that topic alone other than a dishonorable mention, and also a mention of the historical fact that Goebbels also used images of children in his Nazi propaganda.

      icon, because, sarcasm again.

    3. Augie
      Pint

      Re: Forget the kiddies

      I cant hit the upvote enough times for this..

  10. Garymrrsn
    Coat

    Wouldn't it be interesting...

    ...if China filed an Intellectual Property Copyright lawsuit against Mr. Barr for stealing their methods?

  11. Long John Brass Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Data fetishists

    Perhaps it's time to start snidely start asking why the bureaucrats and politicians seem to spend so much time thinking about children?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Data fetishists

      Maybe this whole access thing is just a way for political team A to get dirt on political Team B.

      Politicians do seem obsessed with kids.

    2. ivan5

      Re: Data fetishists

      Epstein??

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Data fetishists

      "...why the bureaucrats and politicians seem to spend so much time thinking about children?"

      ...And at what age people are suddenly off their love-list?

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Data fetishists

        ...And at what age people are suddenly off their love-list?

        Oh that's easy. Never.

        The issue is which list is of value to them. They have lists based on age, race, gender, sexuality, income, class/ancestry and all sorts of things. Good and bad lists of each as well. Whether they like or hate you; whether you need compassion and support or a long sentence of hard labour - all depends on what sound-bite they want recorded today.

        That's why the label manufacturing industry is so busy inventing new ones and not just retiring old ones but making out that those who use them after they're retired are bad people (eg how calling someone "differently abled" is now a big offence whereas just a few years back it was considered the proper PC term) - the more you know which lists you're on the better you can live, but the more confused you are....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Data fetishists

          @Kiwi

          But I was just quoting Bill Hicks.

  12. Mark192

    They wouldn't - can't possibly - have a program of mass-surveillance that would be made much less effective by this, could they?

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      They wouldn't - can't possibly - have a program of mass-surveillance that would be made much less effective by this, could they?

      When I was working in factories I used to do a lot of quality control work.

      When you have stuff that is clearly within spec, it's easy to sort. When you have stuff that's clearly out of spec, it's easy to sort. When you have stuff that's borderline, it can take a lot longer than it should to sort. In or out of spec might take a second, but just in/just out might not (spec can involve size but also paint/plating finish and other things. If the spec calls for a minimum plating thickness of 10 microns and it's clearly 15 or more across the surface it's easy to see, but if it's 10 across several points you have to look at it more closely to make sure at no point is it below 10)

      Another way to look at it - when you have 5 pictures of a scene it's easy to find the best one. When you have 500 pictures of a scene, it's not easy to even begin.

      All surveliance programs are ruined by too much material to work with.

  13. Andrew Jones 2

    No messaging company is going to voluntarily remove encryption - or weaken encryption while iMessage is still in its fully end to end encrypted form.

    Notably Apple appears to be missing from the list of companies these people keep demanding should allow them access.

    Either Apple already allows the US Government / law enforcement access to customers "secure" messages or they know they haven't got a chance pressuring Apple to back down.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Likely the former. They found a way to crack the iPhone of someone who was already dead, after all.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "Notably Apple appears to be missing"

      Um, have you forgotten the whole iPhone decryption affair we had a few months ago ? Where the police were practically stomping their feet to get Apple to decrypt a phone, which Apple refused, and then the police somehow got the phone decrypted and (IIRC) there was nothing incriminating in it ?

      Apple is quite proud of ensuring people's secure communications - unless we're talking about China in which case Apple is just a proud to ensure government access.

      I'm guessing that that irks American politicians to no end, but in the US you can't lock up and torture someone to get information - not on US soil anyway. You have to be abroad for that, and the suspect cannot be white.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: "Notably Apple appears to be missing"

        I think there was a case where a multiple Murfreesboro had a Samsung phone - completely destroyed, another Android phone - completely destroyed, a laptop - hard drive disappeared and was never found, and a work supplied iPhone which wasn’t touched.

        Seriously, who would have thought that there would be anything incriminating on that iPhone _in these circumstances _?

    3. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      one word Checkm8

      hard coded into every iThing for a long time

  14. Esme

    Oh the irony!

    - that Facebook. one of the biggest invaders of personal privacy, should be taking a stand to defend user privacy!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh the irony!

      Facebook is not your enemy. However, if you choose to use it despite knowing what it does with your data, more fool you.

      The government on the other hand, has the power to ruin your life.

      Hong Kong and China appear to be becoming the role models for the West :(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh the irony!

        "Facebook is not your enemy"

        It IS my enemy and to any member of free (and not-so free) society.

        Facebook has shown time and time again that it has abused it's users data by completely ignoring the worthless "privacy controls" and allowing just about any app developer, phone manufacturer or data provider to use this data any way they see fit without any oversight.

        And Mark Zuckerberg should be brought up on charges for lying to congress and other nations lawmakers about the true extent of the abuse.

        If you truly believe that Facebook is not your enemy then you haven't been paying attention.

        Anon because Facebook also has a history of abusing it's immense powers to silence or smear it's critics.

        1. AIBailey Silver badge

          Re: Oh the irony!

          If you truly believe that Facebook is not your enemy then you haven't been paying attention.

          I agree that they're not the enemy. Usage of Facebook is completely optional. Don't join Facebook, and they have no data to use or share. Just make sure that if you do join, you go into it with no more expectation of privacy than you'd get with Google, Microsoft or even Apple,

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: Oh the irony!

            "Don't join Facebook, and they have no data to use or share"

            Not exactly true..

            https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/04/17/facebook_admits_to_tracking_non_users/

            https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/22/facebook_data_leak_no_account/

            I'm sure there are also other examples - I couldn't find the link to the article about FB collecting data for people who don't have an account, from the phones of people who do.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Oh the irony!

      "Facebook. one of the biggest invaders of personal privacy, should be taking a stand to defend user privacy"

      They're defending their business assets which are, of course, the results of their invasions.

  15. bobsmith2016

    "none of us would accept the proposition that grown-ups should be permitted to mingle in closed rooms with children they don’t know*

    We do, every year. It's called the first day of term.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      We do, every year. It's called the first day of term.

      Except that on the first day of term, the school knows who the adults (the teachers) are, where they live, and that they’ve passed at least some sort of background check. Facebook doesn’t do that.

      Unless a user has been particularly dumb, Facebook doesn’t know who a user is, where they’re from, what their background is, what their address is, or anything.

      One of the things I’ve found surprising about this whole fuss is the focus on encryption and less on identity. One supposes that even when Facebook does report dodgy material to the authorities (something it seemingly does a lot) all they’ve got to go on is an IP address. That’s next to useless when it comes to a prosecution; it must be a major piece of work to identify the house, all the devices that were in the house and then forensically examine them to identify the culprit.

      Facebook and all the other social media outfits could solve that at a pinch; charge a small fee, have a credit card trail back to the user. Oh, and raise revenue that way instead of snooping on our privacy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Facebook isn't the police.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Facebook isn’t the police

          Well spotted, give that AC lurker a peanut. Perhaps you’d like to defend Facebook’s approach to law and order?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I don't have to. Still, personal attacks are only required when you've lost the argument.

            If Facebook are breaking the law, it's the police's job to prosecute them. The irony.

            That doesn't appear to be happening.

            If they're not behaving ethically, then it's the lawmakers job to change the law.

            That doesn't appear to be happening either.

            Oh, and supposedly a million people a day are joining Facebook currently. So they're not particularly bothered about your concerns either.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @bazza

        Are you arguing for Facebook to become the new Stasi?!?

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Are you arguing for Facebook to become the new Stasi?!?

          I think you’ll find they know more about you than the Stasi ever knew about East Germans. The difference is that whilst the Stasi arrested and punished people for imaginary crimes, Facebook does nothing to prevent or identify people committing real crimes via Its services. Indeed it enjoys making money out of them doing so.

        2. Precordial thump
          Coat

          (channeling Ali G)

          No, the FB, Aiiiiii

      3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "Facebook doesn’t know who a user is, [..] what their address is, or anything"

        I take it you have no idea what FaceBook is working at with its AI. My wife had a FaceBook account for two years or so. FaceBook was regularly asking her to confirm if she lived in a given village, and the name of that village regularly got closer to where we actually lived at the time.

        You may avoid giving specific information to FaceBook, but you have friends, and FaceBook is watching their interaction with you, as well as everything you do. Post pictures ? FaceBook is interpolating with pics from your friends. FaceBook is correlating your messages. FaceBook is watching every damn thing you do.

        Obviously FaceBook knows a lot more about you than you think.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: "Facebook doesn’t know who a user is, [..] what their address is, or anything"

          I take it you have no idea what FaceBook is working at with its AI. My wife had a FaceBook account for two years or so. FaceBook was regularly asking her to confirm if she lived in a given village, and the name of that village regularly got closer to where we actually lived at the time.

          So the trick is to tell it you're on the opposite side of the county, or the next county over. If you can't get it to stop collecting data, the next best option is to fill the system with bad data, and make their data less valuable/reliable.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: "Facebook doesn’t know who a user is, [..] what their address is, or anything"

            "So the trick is to tell it you're on the opposite side of the county, or the next county over."

            That'll just get winnowed out as chaff unless you set up some routine to make it keep posting false data without making it look too obvious and getting it rejected as a bot.

        2. bazza Silver badge

          Re: "Facebook doesn’t know who a user is, [..] what their address is, or anything"

          Obviously FaceBook knows a lot more about you than you think.

          Oh I know they do all that, loathsome as it is. But it’s not good enough to present as evidence in a court case, is it. That’s the point - they refuse to do anything to help law to be enforced effectively whilst profiting from those who break it and their victims.

      4. Velv Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "Except that on the first day of term, the school knows who the adults (the teachers) are, where they live, and that they’ve passed at least some sort of background check"

        OK, let's turn that on its head. What parent would put their children into a room of people they do not know without having some form of due diligence and vetting of people in the room?

        You get an invite for your children to attend a party at the house of the new people at the end of the street. You've not met them, your neighbours haven't met them, not even seen them. But it will be fine, let the kids go play. So why as a parent are you letting them loose on Facebook.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          You get an invite for your children to attend a party at the house of the new people at the end of the street. You've not met them, your neighbours haven't met them, not even seen them. But it will be fine, let the kids go play. So why as a parent are you letting them loose on Facebook.

          Pretty common around these parts - but we're not a rich suburb so maybe have a bit more on our plates to worry about :)

          We had a block party to invite new people a couple of years back (and basically one each time we get new neighbours). The new kids were fine playing out back of yard they'd never before been to, while their parents were inside with the rest of us. Audible, not visible, except for the odd glance out a window when someone was up and about.

          The thing is, other people on the block have kids. Those other people let their kids play together. Maybe someone on the block has ideas the parents wouldn't appreciate but even so, the people with kids soon get to know the other people with kids, and while they're largely free to play in different yards we still tend to know where they are and what they're up to - they make enough damned noise about it!

          The classrooms - well, all it means is that the person hasn't been caught doing something (which in most cases is quite simply because they haven't been doing anything - most teachers are pretty good). Just recently NZ had a thugby coach put away who'd been involved in schools and fiddling the kids for decades. Passed all the criminal checks. Passed all the regular "fit and proper person" checks. Didn't pass the boy's bedrooms though. It takes more than suspicion to stop them being a teacher (although enough suspicion can get them moved to other roles or given a "teacher aid", and a parent saying "I think he's a bit too friendly with the kids" is enough to ruin a man's career forever).

  16. Nick Kew
    Coat

    Family Friendly

    ISPs or BOFHs may offer - or impose - "family friendly" 'net access, with "unsuitable" sites blocked to protect you from "here be dragons" parts of the 'net.

    What if you were to extend that principle to chat? Offer a government-backdoored chat branded as "family-friendly" where your not-at-all-creepy spooks could watch benignly over your kids' chat?

    After all, there's precedent. $God has been watching over them for generations so nothing bad could happen. Just update Hansel&Gretel's prayer a bit ... Abends wenn Ich schlafen geh, vierzehn EngelGeister um mich ziehn.

    1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Family Friendly

      Sometimes the 'here be dragons' is amusingly literal.

    2. Long John Brass Silver badge

      Re: Family Friendly

      Maybe thats what is needed... Fairy tales for the modern age...

      Jack & Jill went out to meet their "friend" from the internet

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Family Friendly

        Except now it would be

        Jack and Jack

        Jill and Jill

        It and They

        wotsit and thingymebob

  17. Wade Burchette Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    No need of a backdoor when you have Alexa

    Why even bother asking for a backdoor to encryption when you can just give people Alexa or a Google Home device. People pay to have Amazon and Google listen to them all the time. And people will gladly share their personal information with it. The Federales can go straight to the source, no need for encryption.

  18. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Pirate

    what's to stop using existing tech like ssh, private VOiP, Tor, and VPN?

    (what it says in the topic)

    there are so many existing protocols capable of end-end encryption that it's pathetic to even TRY and stop it.

    If FB installs a back door, then "an app for that" _WILL_ happen because someone like me will write it. Then Faece-Bitch won't be able to insert themselves and monetize your conversation, so they have a vested interest in NOT having back doors.

    besides, there IS ALREADY a vacuum for a decent PRIVATE end-end encrypted peer-peer application. All it needs is a protocol (like torrent trackers have) to find the peers, along with some dedicated servers to connect the ends. Then the rest is peer-peer including the encryption, no 'man in the middle'.

    If done properly there won't be a record of any of it, other than the IP addresses of people identifying themselves to the service.

  19. kmedcalf

    Already has Lawful Access

    Barr *already has* Lawful Access. There is an already existing process which, on reasonable and probable cause, can be used to obtain the clear-text of encrypted communications from either of the end-points of that communication. The problem is not that Barr and his cronies do not have access, the problem is that they do not have reasonable and probable cause to obtain a search warrant to obtain the clear-text from where it exists -- the endpoints.

    Barr and his cronies want to be able to bypass due process in order to engage in massive fishing expeditions by obtaining the clear-text from intermediaries using the old "wink and nudge" method. Those intermediaries have finally figured out that they can bypass the whole issue -- and the expense and liability -- by simply not having access to the clear-text of the communication.

    This really has nothing whatsoever to do with encryption or "going dark" at all. It has to do with being able to bypass due process because Barr and cronies are unable to meet the requirements to obtain the process that is already available.

  20. lostsomehwere

    Re: Easy to hack ...................

    I can never understand why people get so up in arms why people get so excited about government snooping when Facebook, Google, Amazon know so much more about you than the government could ever do.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Easy to hack ...................

      Because you are not required by law to use FaceBook, Google or Amazon. They are private companies and you can avoid using them if you so wish.

      You cannot avoid the police if they decide to set their sights on you, and resisting them will, in the best case, land you in jail, and could land you in the morgue.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Easy to hack ...................

      "I can never understand why people.."

      You mean, why get upset when the government demands instant access to all the personal communications of every person in the land?

      I think the question should be, 'why wouldn't you be upset?'.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Easy to hack ...................

      There's an error in your logic here. If the govt. get all that Amazon, Google, etc. know about you from them they the govt. knows at least as much and probably more than the Amazon, Google etc know individually.

  21. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Even if the US were to persuade Facebook and other US companies to implement a backdoor in their end to end encryption, organised criminals and terrorists will use messaging services based outside the US to avoid law enforcement.

    You can put encryption back in the box now, its out there and yes some bad people are going to use it, but its better than letting the governments and hackers access to everyone’s personal data.

  22. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "police must be able to see all conversations on messaging platforms in order to protect the public, specifically children, from predators."

    That sounds reasonable.

    Now come back and tell us how you propose to do so that (a) it really is restricted to police and not accessible to some ne'er-do-wells who work out how to crack it in the future, (b) it requires a warrant issued on a genuinely* made serious crime case to a magistrate and (c) by what painful bits of the body you're going to string up those making unauthorised use to spy on political opponents, neighbours, the guy sitting at the next desk or spouses.

    * Unlike, say, the warrants obtained on "Nick's" victims.

    1. kmedcalf

      How about simply "You first".

      After all the Government Agencies have implemented backdoored encryption so that they can be spied on by other Government Agencies at will, and no massive hacks against that encryption has occurred for a full year since the implementation is complete, then maybe we might believe that such "backdoors" can be implemented securely.

      I won't hold my breath, however.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enciphered BEFORE entering the channel!!! Backdoors won't help!!!!

    https://simonsingh.net/media/articles/maths-and-science/the-beale-treasure-ciphers/

    *

    Two of the three Beale papers have remained secret for over a century. So the received wisdom that privately devised ciphers are always poor and easily cracked would not seem to be true in all cases.

    *

    So when the politicians get their way (backdoors), all they will find when they extract messages from public services is evidence that their target messaging has been PRIVATELY ENCIPHERED before it entered the public channel. Duh!! For example, this cipher message. (It's a book cipher, probably similar to the Beale example.) Is it a fruit cake recipe? This is the sort of thing that the politicians will be faced with EVEN IF THEY GET THEIR BACKDOORS.

    *

    1B0G0pae0=cP0a7j0PLw1XJ002gU1Mze1VgF1F2f

    0WI40J8b1hoz0t8b1VpR15qP122E1opI15YN1mIu

    15ey00Mt1SIv11gf1Zvf0C7Q0WJt1TOf0$gf1ftw

    0BI90XU01ilT0NNA02SH0qhO0FaK1R2L1qj90Kg=

    0f1B08Mi1qLh01ZR1glU06=$0iiI0i3e1H5N0$p5

    0RDC1Zbb16ev1KkQ13Nc1S$z03oi06cl1liA0Sqf

    10pf0Wgx1Plg1hIE1DjP03cM14do1glD1Gwq1n8H

    0wJo0GLb1C921gus0Aqr1hqx10zG0hib0wV41okB

    0Zod19JA1keS1ZTG13cV0onx02pB0=bN0Bji0wJk

    0F=10spI0ltD0N8R1ZqM0xgg06vO0iVh1nky0vqb

    067R1paF1WMD1kai0EIL002n0WVJ1pWn0egF05r=

    1WOM0R$a0lGN0Y=u0=JM0sTj1R3k1Q2h1T780D8w

    0Kt91N6R0zaZ1TEs15lf0FzC1FDq1eAr18xx1b6x

    0vEw0z1h0z7I02My1Xey1lFd0Whe01S90arT0lr7

    0yjI04cK1Sxx0pc40pr31L5N0oQm005q09kf03cV

    1jfM0STs1RHL0tl20Pt$1Gxp1A1R0nvJ0hGv14WM

    0KZv1UJ410Iu1Ad91aV116jc0gUQ1L7P066q0iiO

    0b1K1MkK1YV70zHa0KH40=jR0lxf0O9X0OOE1Fcs

    1R2o1Pgu0$7f0QHD03zN13J8177m1oQQ09XI15WG

    0QMc1jFW0roF1TeJ00JW0RY20QAW1ZQe15rA01i6

    0XFk07Zl1TT31MmA0kEf1MTL0Ny51pIi02JS1igg

    12Nt1NA81Dm80zNy1i691Vgm0WT00ERM0VNX0DGa

    00jF06WJ16RL1Kh40NWG0AqL0uf=1e3n1J$U1Pg6

    1PNz0hRx0SZG0fPd0ORt06Kf0kzF1lZI1inI1HiZ

    0ySH13Tu0s851HA60DCG0wSV0jao1Jst01nG0NNF

    09AL1n7$0ywH0t891aKr0$Dp0Xqe1dLG1Ye5

    *

    What am I missing?

    1. Inkey
      Headmaster

      Re: Enciphered BEFORE entering the channel!!! Backdoors won't help!!!!

      All true..... Buuuut what you are missing is that the indelible human rights of privacy and autonomy are being eroded, essentially government expansion of plausible denieability under the guize of security...

      I don't want to have to look up ciphers from the library of Congress just to know my buddy's having a card game while his wife out of town.

      And why should anyone be profiled just because they believe that they have nothing to hide?

      Sickos and killers already use the same methods you described or just broadcast straight to social media anyway.... Willy's argument has eff all to do with security and IMO more to do with cutting the costs of gummermits over reaching surveylence programs.

  24. slimshady76

    Disappointed on the picture!

    Where's my Helen Lovejoy picture to illustrate this piece? Should have been a much better fit than a rusty lock.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One Bad Actor

    Good evening Gentlemen of Government,

    As you are fully aware your act to enforce the weak encryption of private communications is now two days old, and my associates have broken the enfeebled security you inflicted on your citizens.

    In the past we would have expended much time and effort to break into even one personal account. Now, thanks to your support, we have complete access to every private message sent over the internet.

    To thank you for your support in our endeavour, we would like you, and every other user of the internet, to accept the deluge of child pornography which will shortly flood your personal accounts.

    In the past we have hidden ourselves from your investigations but this ability you have given us has made us bold. We no longer fear your investigations because we now disseminate child pornography to everyone.

    We no longer need hide. You are now like us. You are pornographers. You are wanted.

  26. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Think of the Children

    Right. We had trouble getting the local police to act on a child molestation complaint about 10 years ago. It took a reporter from the local TV station shoving a camera in the chief of police's face and asking what they planned on doing about it to get any action. If you can't go after the low hanging fruit (sorry about that) then I seriously doubt that this technology will bring in one pervert.

    1. kmedcalf

      Re: Think of the Children

      You make the error of assuming that the propaganda is based on the truth. However, this is not the case.

      Like all good propaganda, this does have a very small smattering of truth, and that tiny eensy weensy bit of truth is that Barr and cronies want to be able to access encrypted communications without the "bother" of due process. The rest of it is merely for "atmosphere" and should be ignored.

  27. Chronos Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What, you thought it would stop?

    Patel and Barr are just figureheads. The driving force behind these pushes for no privacy persist far beyond administration changes and it'll never go away. If one faces the fact that neither of these mouthpieces have the vaguest clue what "encryption" is beyond being human-unreadable on the wire, one will realise fairly quickly that they're being fed canned speeches and rhetoric by Sir Humphrey or his USian counterpart, Hank J. Dingleberry III. They're called permanent secretaries for a reason, you know.

    Suggest extending this into and oversight of stock trading systems, bank transfer conduits and public finances, however, and you'd hear the screams of chagrin whilst standing in one of the most unpopulated bits of Mongolia.

  28. ZenCoder
    Big Brother

    Police states are not know for protecting the rights of children.

    Surveillance States become police states. Police states create classes of people who are above the law. Things can get vary dangerous for children when they are under the authority of people who are above the law.

  29. localzuk

    Another day, another nonsense "think of the children" line

    This isn't about finding abusers, or child pornographers. That's just the usual excuse. The only use for this sort of thing is mass surveillance. No more, no less.

    Actual criminals, the ones out there hurting people, would use something else. As I've said before, there are apps that allow strong encryption that only the end users have - as they generate them when they launch the app. The code for such apps is already online and downloadable. Takes a fairly small amount of time to get your own personal chat network running.

    If it truly were about the children, then end to end encryption would be a requirement of all online tools. Remember the old hole in Yahoo Messenger? Allowed people to connect to running sessions and see the users' cameras. If the encryption in place across the net now gets weakened by back doors, then that is what we'll be going back to.

    1. gnarlymarley Bronze badge

      Re: Another day, another nonsense "think of the children" line

      Actual criminals, the ones out there hurting people, would use something else.

      Criminals don't obey the law. Why do we think they are called criminals? If they are actually using it, they have their own end-to-end encryption already in place and will not be detected. (For anyone curious https and vpns have end-to-end encryption, so all https sites would have to be changed back to http.) So, would you want your password traveling on the public internet unencrypted?

      1. localzuk

        Re: Another day, another nonsense "think of the children" line

        That isn't actually true - let's stick to facts.

        End to end encryption is when data is encrypted at all points between clients, without the middle bit knowing what was sent.

        So, WhatsApp has end to end encryption, as the encryption key is held by the client, and not the server.

        HTTPS is a secure connection between client and the server. Once the data gets to the server it may no longer be kept encrypted. VPNs, again, are encrypted from the client to the server. Not from client to client.

  30. The_Idiot

    So logically...

    ... they should be asking for/ demanding every room in every building has concealed microphones 'only accessible by law enforcement', every outside area have microphones situated in suitably mapped overlap zones 'only accessible by law enforcement', so as to ensure people don't have non-electronic conversations not 'available only to law enforcement'. Would that be OK? By their standards, I mean? Because, after all, there would never be any reason for people to object to such a level of surveillance, because of, like, terrorists, the children and people maybe stealing the newspaper the paper boy threw on their stoop. And _no_ possibility that 'Bad Guys(tm)' would _ever_ be able to gain access to what the microphones recorded, right? Right? Er.... right?

    Sigh.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So logically...

      "every room in every building has concealed microphones"

      No need. People will buy their microphones from Amazon or whoever and place them in plain sight.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So logically...

        You are aware that every mobile phone has a microphone?

  31. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    /inserts no_rage_face.jpg

    If you outlaw $thing, only outlaws will use $thing.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      No, if you outlaw $thing, then everyone who uses $thing becomes an outlaw.

      Then your statement becomes true.

  32. elaar

    So, the US argue that Huawei are despicable and are a company that will obey the Chinese government and aid them viewing all of our communications data (ignoring the fact that most ISPs use multiple vendors in their network), and yet the US and now Priti Patel moan at Facebook for their use of encryption because it hinders their ability to view all of our communications, because of erm (what will sound best to the public.....) the safety of our innocent children!!!

  33. elaar

    The US ranks almost bottom in the world when it comes to family benefts, causing some pretty extreme child poverty.

    Likewise the UK austerity has increased foodbank use and a large rise in inequality, with over 4million children in relative poverty.

    But both countries seem really concerned about online child abuse (when it comes to encryption) at this very moment in time, strange that.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Big Brother

      But both countries seem really concerned about online child abuse (when it comes to encryption) at this very moment in time, strange that.

      Not really so strange. Tackling the at-home poverty - requires real work, with real and readily visible results or failures. Within a few weeks change would be noticeable, and within a year or two career-ending failures would easily be seen.

      With the encryption stuff, no real work is necessary while the nasty evil tech companies are being mean and making things really really hard when you're being super serial about protecting the children (read in the voice of South Park version of Al Gore). For decades you can stretch it out as you target one individual after another. Real-world policing and changing political landscapes - and what material you push the press to publish and what you 'encourage' them to not publish (there are only so many minutes of news time, so many column inches etc) will mean people will start to think the terrorist threat is over since no more media publishing 'terrorist' stories every few minutes. For decades you have a mass of funding and easy ways to appear successful/hide the actual total failure. And if any one ever questions you then just trot out how they're supporting kiddy fiddlers/terrywrists etc etc.

      Just look at the effectiveness of the whole 'carbon' nonsense (and a real-world example of the attacks on those who dare question will soon be immediately following my post no doubt :) )

  34. tip pc Bronze badge

    Delete all your social media now

    Lots of people have lots of data on the socials that they assumed was fine and safe in their small social network. If they knew governments where watching or could look through in the future then a fair number wouldn’t bother posting stuff in the first place. An even larger number wouldn’t be bothered if those outside of their circles read and judged them.

    Facebook have made a huge point recently on privacy, I’d be really pissed if a government trawled through what I thought was private looking to incriminate. Would only be fair for them to set a start date so we could clean up or delete our profiles and play by the rules.

    I’ve always used Social media with the mindset my mum would read all I post, you can never say that for some people you may be associated with.

    Very murky situation if the carry this through.

    They’ll mandate we have some kind of audio monitoring device in our homes next.

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: Delete all your social media now

      They’ll mandate we have some kind of audio monitoring device in our homes next.

      Plenty of scope. Smart metering, smart TVs, smart speakers, iThings, stock Android, the connected infotainment in your car, Ring doorbells...

      /me reads it again

      Oh, wait, that was sarcasm, wasn't it. Oh, ha ha. You got me.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Delete all your social media now

      You think that's possible?

    3. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Delete all your social media now

      Delete all your social media now

      1) No doubt there are many large archives of all this stuff around, not just in government/evil_corp datastores.

      2) I was part of a team[1] monitoring a few sites for "messages of concern" some time back. One thing I actually wrote a little bit of code for was to do regular downloads of the main message indexes and look for "gaps" that appeared. Said gaps would suggest someone had removed one or more messages, and if those messages were in our archive they were flagged for a quick check. I have no doubt someone is using such systems today on various fora, perhaps even here, to watch for posts moderated or deleted by the writers. And no doubt working to correlate active times etc (eg maybe I'm posting under my name here but on another thread posting AC'ly or even under another handle - not necessarily easy for a person to spot but quite easy for a machine to spot when it's reloading stuff every few minutes)

      [1] "The National Organisation of Spyers, Eavesdroppers, and Yammering Consumers (United Net Twitchers Society)" might have been an appropriate moniker for us. If I'd known then what I know now, our tools would've been turned inwards and many members turfed outwards. One of my more shameful periods in life, quietly watching and listening to everyone, noting down everything they said, and forming full-scale judgements on half-heard snippets totally out of context.

  35. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Political Judo

    All that needs to be done is to conduct a widespread campaign of association between electronic back-doors and communism* and let the infighting* do the work.

    *The US view of communism anyway.

    **Unintended results may occur, ymmv.

    1. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: Political Judo

      US view of communism:

      * Not having guns in every room

      * Not having one of those little stars and stripes pins on your pyjamas

      * Having pyjamas

      * Not ending every sentence with "God Bless America"

      * Having cushions on your sofa

      * Any engine with less than 8 cylinders or a flat plane crank

      * Pronouncing "aluminium" properly

      * Beer that isn't akin to making love in a canoe (fucking close to water)

      I fail to see how anything technical will even register despite the fact that the real commies already do what this lot want to do and it would make a lot of sense to associate the two.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Magical

    ""We must find a way to balance the need to secure data with public safety and the need for law enforcement to access the information they need to safeguard the public, investigate crimes, and prevent future criminal activity," the DOJ says to the social network."

    Magical thinking, here I come again ! Will they ever learn ?

  37. Kiwi Silver badge
    Boffin

    $0.02

    "Neither would we ever accept the idea that a person should be allowed to keep a hoard of child sexual abuse material from the scrutiny of the justice system when all of society’s traditional procedures for protecting the person’s privacy, like the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, have been satisfied. But in the digital world, that is increasingly the situation in which we find ourselves."

    I keep a hard drive at a distant friend's house, and he does the same - backups of important data, documents etc I want to survive a house fire or significant disaster (assuming I myself survive).

    Should I be the target of a search warrant and computers/drives taken, that drive's staying put but my friend loses his (hoping as I write this there's nothing naughty on his!).

    Now lets say instead of a drive I kept a folder of flattened and dried remains of mashed-up dead trees at his house, and some of those sheets hold material deemed illegal under local law. How would any of this prevent that? If I have stuff off-site and out of range of the warrant (even if just over the fence), how is that any different to having stuff stored digitally?

    Cops are still busting fiddlers and snorters/suppliers all the time, even when their opsec kung-fu seems pretty strong. It seems to always boil down to decent "real world" police work and mistakes (complacency) on the part of the crooks. If, however, TPTB continue to try to force open encryption so it cannot be trusted, then people will just "revert to the old ways" or come up with other means that the police cannot (for now) break.

    When I was growing up, young as I was I knew that to be 'outted' meant big problems. It didn't stop me finding people to share my at-the-time "illegal perversions" with. Call it 'gaydar'. good observation and deduction skills, or whatever else, people find like-minded people and share like-minded pleasures - and we've been doing this for millennia regardless of what TPTB have considered "illegal" or society has considered 'immoral'. Some things seem to really thrive when they're pushed underground - 'forbidden fruit' seems so much tastier. Christianity thrived when it carried a death-penalty. Some people got really rich during "prohibition" and the bars/clubs thrived even though they feared a raid. Illegal drugs are rampant in pretty much every society, but it seems (last tiny snippet I read) that in the few countries where stuff is legal they have much lower rates of addiction and related issues?

    Maybe there's a better way to deal with these issues. Certainly, putting "back-doors" into encryption isn't one such way. Punish multitudes of innocents while barely inconveniencing the guilty as they look for new ways to hide.

  38. Velv Silver badge
    Pirate

    Republicans

    Outlaw guns, and only outlaws will have guns.

    Outlaw encryption, and only outlaws will have encryption.

    Works both ways Motherfuckers!!!

  39. Cincinnataroo

    Was a time that nobody wanted to be a Peeping Tom.

    Now the tax thieves proudly say they're Toms and want to force us to put clear glass in the bathroom with no curtains.

    Strange days indeed.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Boffin

      Now the tax thieves proudly say they're Toms and want to force us to put clear glass in the bathroom with no curtains.

      They're welcome to do that at my place. They still won't see anything though - not after they gouge their own eyes out, or burn their minds out in sheer[1] disgust.

      [1] Nothing "sheer" about me - when it comes to my physique its more "Look at the size of that thing!" and NOT said in admiration!

      (--->Closest we have to an 'out-of-shape blimp')

  40. johnck

    No encryption no proof

    Going a bit conspiracy theory on this.

    If the encryption has a back door they will be able to put encrypted things on your device at anytime, and then do an official seize and search and find illegal content. Its encrypted with your password on your encrypted device, so it must be yours. Think of it like the police having a key to your house, going in last month and planting some drugs, then doing a raid finding the drugs. You end up going to prison as you had drugs in your house so you must be a dealer.

    Of course it could also be used the other way. As any back door can/will be found and used by others, you could claim things have been added to your encrypted device encrypted with your password without your knowledge and they are not yours. So someone with power, say a politician, gets found with compromising things, say messages ordering illegal things to be done, on their phone they can claim it’s not theirs. It becomes a get out of jail free card for those who can afford the legal team to argue it in court.

    I'm not into conspiracy theories, I just work in IT where unless it is impossible for a user to do something they will find a way to do it no matter how strange or unlikely it is, so I think up those things to and then try to make them impossible to do. Don’t create the SQL script to get order details on your website and just run it, as a user will find some way of changing that script to do something else , simple stuff really.

  41. Augie

    This is the norm now sadly. The moment they say "think of the children" then you know its all the same game.

    They dont want you to have digital privacy, they want to know everything about you. They want to be able to search everything about you in case you dare to think differently. They just want submissive sheep that do not question them.

  42. Scott Pedigo
    Big Brother

    Low Barr Would Have Been Happy If...

    Trump's conversation with Zelensky had been over an end-to-end encrypted Facebook Messenger connection, instead of listened in on by NSA / State Department / Intelligence Service / Russians / ? / and Barr himself. It sort of came around before it even got to go around.

  43. TonyJ Silver badge

    Sure...why not...

    ..but let's mandate the following:

    All systems have to use the same backdoored encryption - and I mean all: banks, governments (inluding politicians), police etc

    No one and no system can be made exempt from it

    The first users have to be politicians and anyone found to be making any attempts to bypass it (as in use an alternative/not use it) should face a mandatory prison sentence.

    Let's see how willing they are then. Let's see what happens when (as we all know when - not if) it's compromised, just how happy the idiots are about it.

    1. kmedcalf

      Re: Sure...why not...

      Not only that, but since these so-called Law Enforcement people have the keys to the backdoor so that they can spy on everyone not them, similarly everyone not them should have the keys to their backdoor so that we can make sure they are acting in accordance with the law.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Sure...why not...

      "..but let's mandate the following:"

      Except you can't mandate anything on lawmakers. They can always change the laws, after all. And if all else fails, someone with enough power or influence can just change the government outright and make all the laws irrelevant.

      IOW, you're better off producing a better human first.

  44. The Central Scrutinizer

    I can't help but wonder if Barr and all the other idiots clamouring for this have ever read "1984".

    Time for the two minute hate to begin.

  45. andy 103

    Interpretation

    I posted this on a similar article but the issue isn't to do with whether or not comms are encrypted.

    At the end of the day this is similar to wire tapping phones or intercepting non-electronic comms way before social media. It happened, happens and will continue to happen.

    The actual problem is the interpretation that's associated with it all. For example if someone is suspected of fraud and authorities see a message where they joked about that subject, or said they saw no issue with it - is that person then more likely to be convicted? And in a similar manner if they refuse to show encrypted messages or hand over keys etc are they then more likely to be seen as "suspicious"? In my mind that's a lot more frightening than the simple case of whether they can read them or not.

  46. Spanners Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I know...

    I know that the police can get a court order and hack in.

    I know that spooks here in the UK are, theoretically and sometimes, obliged to get one too but I suspect that they don't always.

    Neither of those things worry me too much but the thought of being forces to use insecure systems is a very different prospect.

    Why? Because corporations, other criminals, political groups and other unwanteds will be able to do it more easily.

  47. Toilet Duk

    I think a good compromise is that the encryption is crackable but only with a court order and only with heavy expenditure of resources by the NSA. That would deter casual snooping and reserve it for the really serious cases.

    I suspect all of this is kabuki theatre however designed to lull us into a false sense of security and the already can read everything. Wasn't Whatsapp compromised?

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