No tech person should ever breathe a word of support for this, especially not to play a psychotic game of chicken with people who would permanently disable their brakes in an instant if it would fire up their base for a news cycle.
Every tech founder needs to standup to these attempts of control.
All it takes is a complicit supreme court.
Specifically, unreadable speech is still protected by 2nd Ammendment.
Just make your cipher output speech (gibberish words, form of steganography) and you're set.
As a reminder, this is how Zimmerman's PGP was exported. Printed in a book.
Encrypted data looks a lot like random noise, which might be a good basis for hiding it in regular traffic.
I just revised that proposal from 2014 for better clarity:
Don't play chicken with idiots.
To facilitate airline baggage security while easing bag searches, the TSA approved locks which could be opened with a master key (well, one from a small set of keys). These keys, like the "golden key" in the indicated article, were carefully guarded. Anyone using a luggage lock that either wasn't TSA-master-key-compliant, or not already open, was of course considered with great suspicion.
Then someone wrote an article about it. And talked a TSA security agent into posing with the keys displayed. http://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/CM8Naj... was published, and within hours people were 3D-printing copies.
Never forget the great DVD CSS fiasco.
To ward off unauthorized copying, DVDs were encrypted. Authorized playback devices were given the secret decryption key. Controlled properly, this key would never be actually revealed.
Then someone didn't control it properly, storing it unsecured in a playback product. The key was found, copied, disseminated, and DeCSS software proliferated. It was even printed on t-shirts: https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3451/3228250152_cf84bbd87d_b.j...
No, it's not "going to be different this time". Universal back-door keys get compromised/copied/disseminated eventually.
Worked wonderfully, until somebody posted the master key matrix...
We went through it in Coursera's crypto-1 course, as soon as you can see how it works you can see how to break it pretty trivially and recover the key.
Upshot, regardless of technical details: we've been over the "golden key law" concept many times thru several decades, with numerous dramatic examples of why it's a really really bad idea. We can continue arguing about what exactly went wrong then, and why "it will be different this time", but if we've learned anything it's "no, it won't be different this time."
This is a wrong way to think about it. You can say similar things about building a bomb. The steps to manufacture explosives from common materials are simple if you are good at chemistry. Likewise, this mathematical explanation makes encryption sound like a high-school can do it using an abacus. But it's not. It's simple for a person to understand. But coding these algorithms is no joke.
Now if you want the government to not impose restrictions on crypto software, that is the equivalent of wanting to lift controls off explosive substances. Yes these are fundamental truths about the world (mix a and b and get an explosion, multiply prime numbers and you can't factorize), but that does not mean the government cannot try to control them. Just like they control the sale of explosives, for public security, they can also require Microsoft, Apple and Google to put in a master-key. And I don't see a problem with that.
Crypto is different. Once you set up crypto, you have it forever. Crypto that can encrypt 1kB can also encrypt 1TB. Crypto that works for one person can easily be made to work for a million people. Computers handle all the hard parts, and there's no obstacle to scale.
It's true that the government could require big companies to put in a master key. The problem is that criminals would trivially bypass such a requirement. There's no computer equivalent to requiring all ammonium nitrate sellers to report sales. And in the other direction, there's no physical equivalent to the havoc that would occur if the master key ever leaked. The risks and benefits are completely topsy turvy for a master key scheme.
Note that the government doesn't really try to restrict bomb making instructions, just bomb making materials. With crypto, the instructions are the only thing there is. There's no such thing as crypto materials, unless you propose to regulate CPUs in general.
Say, perhaps, every processor had a 2nd processor attached, that would run code not modifiable by the owner? With little public information about it's full capabilities? That had full unfettered access to the primary processor, it's memory, and I/O Ports? And insist that it's mandatory to the function of the primary processor?
Sounds a lot like Intel'S ME?
It is we the people who should be dismantling the security state, in order to solve the terror/war problem - we sure as hell don't need career experts dictating this. The public truly needs to fight back on this.
Crypto is Math.
Broken crypto is broken Math. But Math is broken anyway, because we can't really stop people using Math to hurt us.
After Crypto being banned, what next? The Golden Rule?
We can't have Math, because "Terrorism".
The only solution is an open and honest society, in which sufficient resources are applied, at the human being level, to ensure that terrorism doesn't happen.
Like, we could deploy battleships with bombs all we want, but those same battleships would go a long way towards actually making peace in the world, by healing it instead.
But, we "can't do that", apparently, because "Threats/Force/Terror are more important".
Let we, the people, continue to use crypto to undo the need for such power structures as the NSA, and all the rest of the spooks ..
The problem is that there's no good way to control that master key. What do you do with it? Lock it on an encrypted USB drive in a fire proof safe bolted to the floor under the google headquarters?
That works until a police agency wants to use it. And then another.
How many people do you think you can reasonably give this key to before someone who isn't "supposed" to have it gets their hands on it?
What happens when a criminal gets his hands on the master key that unlocks every encryption made by apple, google and microsoft?
Yes, the master key for your SMSes will be leaked pretty quickly, but every business with a legitimate use for encryption will be able to use it. In the end your bank account will not get hacked, terrorists will continue using strong encryption, but law enforcement will be pacified.
> In the end your bank account will not get hacked
Equifax are still trying to explain to congress whether or not they are encrypting data: https://www.wsj.com/articles/equifax-ceo-to-congress-not-sur...
> terrorists will continue using strong encryption
Terrorists don't generally use encryption, surprisingly. There have been very few incidents recently where the authorities have found themselves with data they were unable to decrypt that might be relevant. The only one I can think of is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_San_Bernardino_attack
They were at one time. Encryption was regulated under the ITAR laws until 1997.
How much do you suppose such keys would be worth? Trillions of dollars?
Every nation-state and criminal organization on the planet would be after those keys. They'd use every technical and social trick in the book, including assassination, to get them.
The loss would be inevitable, swift, and disastrous.
Encryption is not a physical object, which makes it completely unlike explosives. Not only that, there isn't even a specific piece of software that is encryption, it is simply a series of math functions you run on data.
You can make all the rules in the world about companies having to have a master key. People have already downloaded PGP, it is too late to put that back in the bag.
They've already been written. RSA isn't going to magically disappear.
Open source implementations of quality crypto aren't going to up and vanish, just as how instructions to make bombs won't vanish.
Ostensibly, the crypto implementations available today will be good well into the future, barring quantum computing advances.
Crypto implementation available today are only good until they are not anymore and it's impossible to say when that might happen. For example, a new compiler optimization might expose something that wasn't previously exposed.
People who want this software are going to be able to have it. End of story. If a timing attack happens to pop up in it, great, that's a win for the government. But by and large, these messages will go without decryption.
As with anything: these measures will not stop the determined lawbreaker - not that they necessarily need to.
The best I could come up with would be to make decryption possible iff law enforcement had physical possession of the phone and if the act of decryption would make the phone unusable after (e.g. hardware access requires blowing some fusible links) and if the acquired data was still encrypted with a key that only the device manufacturer can provide.
I'd prefer to see no concessions made, but if decryption is going to be required, it should be expensive, require possession of the device and the cooperation of multiple parties.
There will be an incident that turns public opinion on this to such a degree that it will be inevitable.
It's the same as with the old telephone system. The government can do a wiretap but you are always free to use an encrypting telephone if you are worried about that.
There was also a PR battle involved and Apple won.
Defending encryption is hard, because it is primarily a PR battle and the enemy always has the high ground. Notice how all these cases hinge on some terrible crime - terrorism, human trafficking, etc. Because the govt then gets to say "Aha, so who wants to stand up and defend terrorists!? Nobody> That's what we thought, so let's pass this new law then".
But what Apple did (and kudos to their PR team) is turn it around said it wasn't just a 1st Amendment issue, but also a practical personal safety risk issue. Not having encryption means being exposed to identity theft and fraud. It is not just something abstract but a specific and real danger that everyone either experienced or knows someone who it happened to.
Read it here: https://www.apple.com/customer-letter/
It is really a great example of good PR and a good punch back in the encryption battle. It helps sometimes when a tech giant throws their weight behind this.
It's quite possible for legislation involving key escrow/recovery, import controls and mandatory sentencing for using noncompliant crypto and so forth to pass the current senate and house, regardless of the technical shortcomings of the solution.
My belief is that the LEAs are waiting for a sufficiently egregious event involving crypto so they can push through legislation rather than attempt shaky arguments in court with the current laws. Guessing that the phone involved in the recent shooting was unlockable, at least initially, and didn't contain anything sufficiently interesting to make political hay out of.
It shouldn't be that hard to cast strong encryption as a 2nd amendment issue, in emotional if not constitutional terms.
On the other hand, there's even more US legal precedent demonstrating the Supreme Court thinks that the 2nd Amendment applies very narrowly to a very specific class of arms. The Supreme Court fairly recently decided that my city's former ban on handguns is unconstitutional. This decision has not, however, been construed to also cover local bans on things like throwing knives. Nor, I think, would it cover the bans on things like small rockets, even though they are usable as (and originally invented to be) weapons.
I'm inclined to say that the latter body of precedent is the one that the Court would choose to lean on if this were cast as a 2nd Amendment issue.
Like I said: emotionally, if not constitutionally. For legislators, what the courts say is immaterial, if voting for such a bill is likely to make the unelectable.
Either we are free people able to do as we please with our property or we are serfs on a plantation. Free people have both the right to self defense and access to the proper tools without them being dumbed down.
But I understand the intent of the second amendment. It's not to allow hunting. It's not to allow you to protect your home from robbers. It's definitely a statement of defiance to tyrannical government. So if the NRA doesn't agree to some similar line of thought on encryption, they're hypocrites.
(Lifetime member of the NRA but I have no special insight or knowledge.)
> Once they get close enough to the precipice, they’ll experience a salutary fear of consequences.
No, they won't. Look at how Trump got elected or Brexit was decided. Excessive stupidity of a project won't stop people from pursuing it.
It is worth noting that Congress members may be worried about keeping some private things private. That may act as a real check.