The war against encryption has escalated in the tech world this year, with governments looking to decipher more details of people’s private lives and wealth. At a recent address, FBI Director James Comey detailed that a serious “adult” conversation concerning encryption will happen in the coming year.
Also Read: UPDATE: Bitcoiners Who Use Tor – Be Warned!
FBI Director Details Encryption Battle to Heat up in Coming Months
A significant feud between the private tech-sector and the federal government about the use of encryption continues. At an August symposium organized by Symantec, FBI Director James Comey explained to attendees that law enforcement should prepare for government backdoors to private data and encrypted devices.
Comey, who has been against strong encryption for quite some time, told the room of computer specialists from Symantec that the country’s protection always comes first. He said tech firms need to collaborate with the federal government because use of encryption is rising and access points to data are becoming less available.
The advent of default ubiquitous strong encryption is making more and more of the room that we are charged to investigate dark. There was always a corner of the room that was dark, that shadow is spreading to more and more of the room. Next year we can have an adult conversation in this country.
The government interest in gaining access to encrypted devices should be a warning for Bitcoin users who store cryptocurrency on their iOS or Android devices. Mobile users aren’t the only ones who need to worry, though; the FBI has been ramping up its measures to target Tor users and may gain some leverage this December with Rule 41. As Bitcoin.com recently reported, if Rule 41 passes, the FBI can easily obtain warrants to gain backdoor access to entire networks of computers.
Over the past six months, FBI Director James Comey said the organization has received 4,000 devices to investigate but were unable to obtain access to five hundred of them. Comey stated that, unless tech companies collaborate with the FBI. “that number will only grow.”
‘No Such Thing As Absolute Privacy’
Comey’s statements reiterate President Obama’s South by Southwest (SXSW) tech-festival speech concerning encryption in March. The President told attendees there needs to be a middle ground between tech companies and the federal government.
Obama went into further detail about those participating in tax evasion with just an encrypted mobile phone. During the speech, Obama said they needed mechanisms to help tax enforcement and “if the government can’t get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss Bank account in their pocket.”
At the Symantec event, Comey stated his belief that the middle ground between tech vendors and the government is a bargain Americans have accepted. Comey said communications with “our spouses, with our lawyers, with our clergy, with our medical professionals are not absolutely private.” The FBI Director says judges need to be granted access to this specific data on occasion, and this is something U.S. citizens should expect. Comey explained to the crowd:
A judge, under certain circumstances, can order all of us to testify about what we saw, remembered, or heard. There are really important constraints on that. But the general principle is one that we’ve always accepted in the United States and has been at the core of our country: There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America. There is no place outside of judicial authority.
Privacy advocates, Bitcoin proponents, and Tor users need to be aware that nation states are on a mission to break encryption in the name of security. This same battle is also taking place in the European Union and many countries across the world. Bureaucrats are continuing to use the same arguments to access the public’s private data, with the traditional excuses regarding terrorism and national security. The FBI Director believes governments will get what they want in the coming year.
What do you think about the FBI Director being so strongly against encryption? Let us know in the comments below.
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