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Barr says the US needs encryption backdoors to prevent “going dark.” Um, what? (arstechnica.com)
70 points by feross 72 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

Encryption with backdoor will not make actual encryption disappear.

Outlawing encryption will not make encryption disappear.

Bad guys will eventually learn that.

Honest people will be the only ones losing

The thing I don't understand about strong encryption with a backdoor: who is supposed to pay for the r&d? It's a little like mandating that cars have to have technology to prevent getting in car wrecks, but not defining how that would work.

To further your point: Matt Blaze said this recently: "Encryption backdoor demands seem to get vaguer with each iteration. The 1993 Clipper Chip, as bad as it was, was at least a specific proposal with technical properties that could be discussed. Now it's just "you nerds go figure it out, it can't be that hard"."


Really it is just demagoguery and should be treated as such - they don't want a solution they want somebody to blame. That it is impossible to fufill is a feature and not a bug.

The only rational thing to do is to treat them with as much violence to them you can get away with to weaken their toxic influence. Mock them as illiterates, accuse their true motives as wanting to look at everyone's sexts (already proven), vote anyone who supports them out and more.

I'm not sure they expect to actually get a technological solution. The prospect that scares me most about this isn't that officials are demanding the impossible right now, it's whatever their next "counter-offer" is. I feel like there's a real risk of politicians settling on a licensing regime where a bank, payment processor, cloud platform, telco, etc. gets to use strong encryption iff it files the right paperwork and maintains a backdoor in its system (i.e. not in the encryption itself).

"The nerds wouldn't do what we asked for, so we need to make encryption illegal now. It's to stop the terrorists. You don't support terrorism, do you?".


This isn't new, nor does it represent a disconnect between Barr and the office (which he has held before). Senior US law enforcement and legal officials have been pushing this line of argument for 20+ years.

Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by malice.

I would put in a caveat - when it comes to power it is best to assume they know exactly what they are doing if it serves their interests in any way.

My take on this is "never attribute to stupidity what can be explained by greed".

The FBI, or law enforcement agency in general, and malice? What could you ever mean? Our professionals are the most noble automatons of integrity and never twisted by perverse incentives. Just give them the ring and you don't even need to go to Mt. Doom


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