As the debate over law enforcement access to encrypted communications continues, commentators and policymakers often overlook an instructive historical example.
Latest in going dark
I. Embrace Reality and Deal With It
On Sept. 28, the New York Times published a harrowing, in-depth investigative story on the prevalence of child pornography on the internet. The piece describes a staggering increase in the number of reports to the federal National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) flagging child sexual abuse imagery online from an already-high one million in 2014 to an almost unfathomable 18.4 million in 2018—an increase of almost 1,750 percent in just four years.
Most people who follow the debate over unbreakable, end-to-end encryption think that it’s more or less over. Silicon Valley has been committed to offering such encryption since at least the Snowden revelations; the FBI has abandoned its legal campaign against Apple’s device encryption; and prominent national security figures, especially those tied to the National Security Agency,, have sided with industry and against the Justice Department.
This morning, Attorney General William Barr gave a major speech on encryption policy—what is commonly known as "going dark." Speaking at Fordham University in New York, he admitted that adding backdoors decreases security but that it is worth it.
Attorney General William Barr gave a speech on encryption at the International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University on July 23 that went over the usual law enforcement arguments for exceptional access.
On Tuesday, July 23, Attorney General William Barr delivered a keynote address at the International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University. The complete speech can be read below.
Revelations on the FBI’s Unlocking of the San Bernardino iPhone: Maybe the Future Isn't Going Dark After All
Lawfare readers may be familiar with the San Bernardino case in which the FBI took Apple to court over the locked iPhone of the dead terrorist. I certainly am. I testified in Congress about the case in March 2016 and recently published a book on whether law enforcement should have exceptional access to locked devices. (Short answer: no).