DOJ and FBI target Goolge and Apple in Crypto war

The DOJ and FBI on Wednesday targeted latest set of enemies for law enforcement and national security: not pedophiles, or ISIS, but Google and Apple.

These giant organizations and others that give or will soon allow E2E encryption make it difficult to peruse blocked computerized messages — and without mentioning names, James Comey (FBI Director) and Sally Quillian Yates (Deputy Attorney General) said that we will “work with” those organizations to guarantee access to their clients’ communications.

On Wednesday morning during judiciary hearing, Comey and Yates said firms that “do not retain access” to clients’ data can complicate authorized national security and criminal investigations.

Apple and Google, in response to requirements from clients who request top level of security and privacy, have been gradually rolling out the E2E encryption on their services and devices just like iPhones and Gmail.

When the communications are encrypted through E2E, only the recipient and the sender have access to those communications, the only way to decrypt them is by particular “keys.” If you don’t have those keys, the communication seems like “gobbledygook,” as stated by James Comey in the Senate hearing.

Yates said, “We want to work with the communications providers to find a way with them to get access to the information we need … while protecting privacy. We want to have each provider think about and work out a way where they will find a way to respond to these requests.”

Actually Yates intended that she wants corporations to shut down E2E encryption, or find methods to avoid it. Yates and Comey insisted that there should be some latest technology develop by Silicon Valley, would allow them to access what they are looking for without jeopardizing strong encryption.

However, cryptology and privacy researchers have claimed for years that this wouldn’t be doable with affecting overall privacy and opening spaces for hackers to exploit.

Comey and Yates both vowed that they don’t want to force compliance via a judicial order. Yates said, “The approach of the administration is not to have a one size fits all legislative solution at this point.” But, she said that an order “may finally be required” to force businesses to obey. Many senators, including R-N.C., Thom Tillis, agreed.

According to the Comey, the solution of the problem is, “Maybe no one will be creative enough, unless you force them to.”

Despite the DOJ and FBI’s insistence that E2E is a risk, Yates rejected to provide information on the number of cases in which E2E has proved to be an insurmountable hurdle. I see the problem every single day, Yates told the committee, however, doesn’t keep a record of cases in which encryption forced to keep away the department from observing communications.

Yates explanation actually was that when the encryption orders are presented to Department of Justice, it no more even attempts to protect a wiretap order. Yates told Sen. D-Minn and Al Franken, who seemed unimpressed, “Being able to give you hard numbers on the number of cases that have been impacted is impossible.”

A report on wiretapping from Federal Courts in year 2014, published last week exposed that state and federal law enforcement employees at all positions encountered just 4 cases all through the year 2014, in which wiretaps were dissatisfied because of encryption. Plus, as Comey retold the committee, deprived of going into any explanation, the DOJ and FBI have other ways of monitoring and tracking crooks and their communications.

On the other hand, Franken raised figure to the last OPM breaches as proof that federal government itself is not able to be protect its own private data and as a cause for organizations to continues search for development in encryption. “With each new story about a cyber attack,” he noted, “we learn that we should have strong encryption.”

However, law enforcement authorities are instead targeting the businesses who are front-running the effort toward army-standard protect online and more private communication.

Top/Featured Image: By Tsahi Levent-Levi / Flickr

Ali Qamar Ali Qamar is a seasoned blogger and loves keeping a keen eye on the future of tech. He is a geek. He is a privacy enthusiast and advocate. He is crazy (and competent) about internet security, digital finance, and technology. Ali is the founder of PrivacySavvy and an aspiring entrepreneur.
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