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FBI Director reopens crypto backdoors debate

Posted by Sam Frances on Thursday, December 17th, 2015 at 8:33

FBI Director James Comey has suggested that technology companies should consider ceasing to offer strong end-to-end encryption.

Speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Mr Comey said that providing access to encrypted communications is “not a technical question …it is a business model question. The question we have to ask is: Should they change their business model?”

It’s not a technical issue. There are plenty of companies today that provide secure services to their customers and still comply with court orders. There are plenty of folks who make good phones and are able to unlock them in response to a court order. In fact, the makers of phones that today can’t be unlocked, a year ago they could be unlocked.

Mr Comey’s comments come barely a month after the FBI’s general counsel James Baker said that the FBI had given up trying to pressure tech companies into introducing encryption backdoors. Addressing the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) annual conference on suggestions that the government should be given a “golden key” to unlock encrypted communications, Baker said:

It’s tempting to try to engage in magical thinking and hope that the amazing technology sector we have in the United States can come up with some solution. Maybe that’s just a bridge too far. Maybe that is scientifically and mathematically not possible.

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