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McLaughlin writes: "As the Obama administration campaign to stop the commercialization of strong encryption heats up, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is firing back on behalf of the companies like Apple and Google that are finding themselves under attack."

Edward Snowden. (photo: NBC)
Edward Snowden. (photo: NBC)


Edward Snowden Explains Why Apple Should Continue to Fight the Government on Encryption

By Jenna McLaughlin, The Intercept

31 July 15

 

s the Obama administration campaign to stop the commercialization of strong encryption heats up, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is firing back on behalf of the companies like Apple and Google that are finding themselves under attack.

“Technologists and companies working to protect ordinary citizens should be applauded, not sued or prosecuted,” Snowden wrote in an email.

Snowden was asked by The Intercept to respond to the contentious suggestion — made Thursday on a blog that frequently promotes the interests of the national security establishment — that companies like Apple and Google might in certain cases be found legally liable for providing material aid to a terrorist organization because they provide encryption services to their users.

In his email, Snowden explained how law enforcement officials who are demanding that U.S. companies build some sort of window into unbreakable end-to-end encryption — he calls that an “insecurity mandate” — haven’t thought things through.

“The central problem with insecurity mandates has never been addressed by its proponents: if one government can demand access to private communications, all governments can,” Snowden wrote.

“No matter how good the reason, if the U.S. sets the precedent that Apple has to compromise the security of a customer in response to a piece of government paper, what can they do when the government is China and the customer is the Dalai Lama?”

Weakened encryption would only drive people away from the American technology industry, Snowden wrote. “Putting the most important driver of our economy in a position where they have to deal with the devil or lose access to international markets is public policy that makes us less competitive and less safe.”

Snowden entrusted his archive of secret documents revealing the NSA’s massive warrantless spying programs all over the world to journalists in 2013. Two of those journalists — Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras — are founding editors of The Intercept.

Among Snowden’s many revelations are the CIA’s years-long efforts to break Apple’s security systems, and American and British spy agencies’ theft of a vast trove of private encryption keys. Snowden himself taught Greenwald the importance of using strong encryption to protect the materials.

FBI Director James Comey and others have repeatedly stated that law enforcement is “going dark” when it comes to the ability to track bad actors’ communications because of end-to-end encrypted messages, which can only be deciphered by the sender and the receiver. They have never provided evidence for that, however, and have put forth no technologically realistic alternative.

Meanwhile, Apple and Google are currently rolling out user-friendly end-to-end encryption for their customers, many of whom have demanded greater privacy protections — especially following Snowden’s disclosures.

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+3 # RMDC 2015-08-01 06:50
I don't trust Apple or Google. They have been in bed with the CIA, NSA, and Homeland Security for a long time and are now only trying to repair the distrust their customers have in them. Their "end to end" encryption sounds nice, but I'm sure they are developing this hand-in-hand with the US regime's spy agencies.

This is just marketing on the part of Apple and Google and the US regime is helping them by making it appear they are risking criminal prosecution for offering their users encryption.

Encryption is just an arms race. Any encryption can be broken. It just takes time and work. The NSA was created to break encryption. It has a national encryption museum on its headquarters at Ft. Meade in Maryland. So, software suppliers will offer encryption and the NSA will hack it. Then they will offer stronger encryption. Then the NSA will break it. Then they will offer even stronger encryption. Then the NSA will break it.

This will go on until the internet slows down to a near stop. At that point we will again have privacy because there will be no internet.

Wouldn't it be more effective to simply abolish the NSA, CIA, Homeland security and all the spy agencies of the US regime?
 
 
+3 # Darooha 2015-08-01 08:08
Encryption is nothing like an "arms race". Your assertion that "any encryption can be broken" is mathematically true, but my require a computer with more processors than there are atoms in the universe running for longer than the age of the universe.

---Your friendly computer science professor
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2015-08-01 12:01
Thanks. But you don't have to break the encryption by algorythms. Here's the easy way -- "American and British spy agencies’ theft of a vast trove of private encryption keys." The CIA specializes in theft. They steal everything and they bribe and corrupt anyone who works for any coompany and has secrets.
 
 
0 # Darooha 2015-08-04 13:16
I was just responding to what you wrote, which was incorrect. Your response was to make a completely different point. whatever.
 
 
0 # JSRaleigh 2015-08-01 15:02
Quoting RMDC:
Wouldn't it be more effective to simply abolish the NSA, CIA, Homeland security and all the spy agencies of the US regime?


Not really; not unless you could abolish all the other regime's spy agencies at the same time?

Even if you could, you'd still be left with all the corporations spying on you.
 
 
+8 # jwb110 2015-08-01 11:06
I knew a woman when I lived in PA. She had been born and raised under the old Soviet System in Poland and was there when the Poles, through a trade union movement I might add, got their country back. She and her husband then moved to the US. I met them and we were having conversation wen she said of recent trends in the government about privacy, "Everyday the United States gets more and more like the old Soviet Union." If anyone should know what it was like to have the heal of the State on your neck and no civil rights to speak it would be a person that had lived it. The real argument is the eroding of the Civil Rights of Americans.
 
 
0 # ronnewmexico 2015-08-02 01:26
Your joking right.
Natives in New Mexico got the right to vote in local elections in 1947. When could women start to vote?. Blacks….civil righs…am I missing something.
So the premeis is we have to go to the soviets of the past to see no civil rights to speak of…..??? I am wondering when did they start? Did they really try to get Martin Luther KIng to kill himself by blackmail. Did they outlaw the ghost dance by edict back in the day of native americans? And on and on….
 
 
0 # Adoregon 2015-08-02 13:52
See the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
And, yes, the U.S.A. today is beginning to be a lot like the [old] U.S.S.R..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHD5nd3QLTg
 
 
0 # ronnewmexico 2015-08-02 01:29
You go Edward…stay strong you speak for us none other will.
 

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