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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: 5, Informative) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday January 25 2017, @04:44PM

    by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday January 25 2017, @04:44PM (#458524)

    That's strange, because I seem to recall countless criticisms of Obama and his cohorts over the issue of the surveillance state. There was certainly a lot of discussion about it on this website. Partisan hacks are nothing new and exist on both sides, so what are you even referring to?

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  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25 2017, @05:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25 2017, @05:14PM (#458537)

    But but libruls are evil!

    I'll bet this whole thing is fake news spread by libruls! Trump is going to make sure we have fantastic encryption! The best encryption!

    Trump! Trump! Trump!

  • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday January 25 2017, @06:16PM

    by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday January 25 2017, @06:16PM (#458563) Journal

    Obama Won’t Seek Access to Encrypted User Data []

    The Obama administration has backed down in its bitter dispute with Silicon Valley over the encryption of data on iPhones and other digital devices, concluding that it is not possible to give American law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to that information without also creating an opening that China, Russia, cybercriminals and terrorists could exploit.

    The fact that they actually made the right call helps...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2017, @12:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2017, @12:58AM (#458758)

      They are all pro-surveillance.

      This should not in any way be a partisan issue, it is US (the people) versus THEM (the politicians and their authoritarian backers of various stripes and creeds.)

      We need to remind them who is in charge and stop acting like livestock for them to do as they please.

      And people need to stop whining about liberals or conservatives and allowing them to divide us over the stupid parts of each side's ideology, rather than uniting over the common pieces neither side SUPPOSEDLY wants infringed.