Thursday, October 15, 2015

INTERNET - Encryption Wars

"Why tech companies may be winning the encryption argument" PBS NewsHour 10/13/2015


SUMMARY:  Ever since (traitor) Edward Snowden released information about the extent of secret U.S. surveillance, a battle has been growing between tech companies and the government over access to data.  New reports suggest the Obama administration may be backing down on its demands over encryption.  William Brangham speaks to David Sanger of The New York Times.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Ever since (traitor) Edward Snowden released a mountain of information about the extent of U.S. government secret surveillance, the battle has been growing between tech companies and the government over access to data.

One of the major fronts in that battle has been the decision by Apple, Google, Microsoft and others to lock down, or encrypt, data on smartphones and digital devices.

But new reports say the Obama administration may be backing down from its demands.

William Brangham has the story.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  For months now, the Obama administration has said it’s essential to be able to occasionally access messages, texts and photos that are sent on today’s smartphones.  But many of the latest devices give individual users the power to control their data and block others from seeing it.

Until recently, law enforcement has argued that this encryption is making it increasingly hard to track terrorists or criminals who are using these devices to communicate with each other.

For example, this is what Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told a Senate hearing this summer:

SALLY YATES, Deputy Attorney General:  ISIL currently communicates on Twitter, sending communications to thousands of would-be followers right here in our country.  When someone responds and the conversations begin, they are then directed to encrypted platforms for further communication.

And even with a court order, we can’t see those communications.  This is a serious threat, and our inability to access these communications with valid court orders is a real national security problem.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  This past week the Obama administration has apparently backed off on some of its demands to gaining access to our digital devices.

David Sanger has been reporting on this for The New York Times.  And he joins me now.

David Sanger, welcome.

DAVID SANGER, The New York Times:  Thanks.  Good to be with you, William.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  The term of art here is encryption.  And for those who haven’t been following this debate very closely, could you just give us a quick primer?  What is encryption?

DAVID SANGER:  Well, encryption is a sophisticated version of what you did when you made codes when you were a kid.

It is taking the data that’s in your phone and wrapping it in a code so that if somebody got ahold of that phone, if they didn’t know the key, they couldn’t de-encrypt it.  And sometimes conversations are encrypted or data is encrypted when it’s moving across a telephone wire as well.

Note the last high-lighted sentence, that means terrorists can hide.

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