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posted by on Wednesday January 25 2017, @11:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the ROT-13-is-too-secure dept.

Like other politicians and government officials, President Trump's nominee for the position of Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, wants to have it both ways when it comes to encryption:

At his confirmation hearing, Sessions was largely non-committal. But in his written responses to questions posed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, however, he took a much clearer position:

Question: Do you agree with NSA Director Rogers, Secretary of Defense Carter, and other national security experts that strong encryption helps protect this country from cyberattack and is beneficial to the American people's' digital security?

Response: Encryption serves many valuable and important purposes. It is also critical, however, that national security and criminal investigators be able to overcome encryption, under lawful authority, when necessary to the furtherance of national-security and criminal investigations.

Despite Sessions' "on the one hand, on the other" phrasing, this answer is a clear endorsement of backdooring the security we all rely on. It's simply not feasible for encryption to serve what Sessions concedes are its "many valuable and important purposes" and still be "overcome" when the government wants access to plaintext. As we saw last year with Sens. Burr and Feinstein's draft Compliance with Court Orders Act, the only way to give the government this kind of access is to break the Internet and outlaw industry best practices, and even then it would only reach the minority of encryption products made in the USA.

Related: Presidential Candidates' Tech Stances: Not Great

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by fadrian on Wednesday January 25 2017, @01:46PM

    by fadrian (3194) on Wednesday January 25 2017, @01:46PM (#458473) Homepage

    After the new Congress passes a law stating that all encryption will have a back door, I doubt many developers on the team would continue under the threat of prosecution. Then the grunts will come in and add in an insecure back door.

    You can't fight stupid when the law says you have to be that way.

    Sessions is a disaster in a lot of other ways too, such as voting rights and marijuana legalization...

    That is all.
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by jcross on Wednesday January 25 2017, @01:54PM

    by jcross (4009) on Wednesday January 25 2017, @01:54PM (#458479)

    You mean any *American* developers would quit the team. As long as there's somewhere in the world safe from this bullshit, I expect we'll have options. Also, good luck trying to force backdoors on the likes of Apple and Google. At some point it would start to look anti-business, which is anti-jobs-in-usa, and then I expect the administration might temper their stance.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25 2017, @02:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25 2017, @02:19PM (#458487)

      Uncle Sam has extradition treaties with many of his underlings... I mean... ALLIES, and he probably will find a very good excuse to arrest one of these non-American developers when she (all the best programmers are transgender, of course) comes to the US to attend a conference on Feminism in Cryptography.

      Yes. I dislike everyone.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday January 25 2017, @06:08PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday January 25 2017, @06:08PM (#458560)

        That won't happen. Such people are already not coming to America, after the infamous debacle with Sklyarov. With Trump/Sessions in power, everyone's going to stay away.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by TheGratefulNet on Wednesday January 25 2017, @03:14PM

      by TheGratefulNet (659) on Wednesday January 25 2017, @03:14PM (#458504)

      indians who where not born here have ALWAYS been happy to do the government's dirty work. they'll happily do it and for low wages, too.

      many american citizens (the R variety, mostly, since that is the party with the authority boot-licking attitude) will also happily work against their own best interests; but foreigners are even 'better' since they don't have the full understanding of what made america great, way back when we started.

      our principles are not theirs; they come from another culture and they could really care less if we bottom-out and become a hellhole. their country already is, for that matter, and they are doing nothing to really fix their own country, either, truth be told.

      so, you can find willing pigs to do the bigging piggies' bidding. shame but its true and everyone knows it.

      look at the googlers and yahoos and such. those people work for companies that also sell us all out. and they convince themselves that they are not doing the man's dirty work. cog dissonance at its best.

      "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
    • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Wednesday January 25 2017, @06:39PM

      by nitehawk214 (1304) on Wednesday January 25 2017, @06:39PM (#458578)

      I used to set up FreeSWAN tunnels for my work back in the late 90s. The project rules were such that no American was allowed to contribute due to the laughable "weaponized encryption" laws back then. No restrictions on usage, though.

      I think those laws were repealed or scaled back some years ago.

      "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2017, @01:09AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2017, @01:09AM (#458765)

        Canada is one of the few 'green' nations in the chart on []
        (or wikipedia if you prefer, but fsck supporting Wales and his financially motivated 'non-profit')
        along with Ghana and a few other places you wouldn't think of as freedom loving utopias and paragons of democracy :)

        In fact most of the 'free world' looks decidedly unfree based on the restrictions noted in that chart.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2017, @06:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2017, @06:58AM (#458840)

      Yep, this is an american fire drill here, as opposed to a chinese one.
      I run FreeBSD and am not at all concerned with any of the spying these assholes are capable of.
      As long as we have a free people on the planet somewhere, uninfected uncompromised code will always be.

      Or course those running M$ windoz are already compromised with backdoors and an OS that spies on you and rats you out everytime you switch the thing on.
      I imagine M$ compliance will satisfy these critters and leave them to quandary OSS and something they can't touch, meddle with or control.
      And this is priceless!