A recent lawsuit by WhatsApp against a spyware company may signal the beginning of the end for lawful hacking as a solution to the problem of law enforcement access to encrypted data.
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Rep. Anna Eshoo and Sen. Ron Wyden have written a thoughtful letter calling on law enforcement to employ currently available digital investigative capabilities.
Editor’s note: This article grew out of work done in our Georgetown University class on national security and social media. The class tackled an array of questions related to how hate groups exploit social media, exploring issues ranging from privacy and human rights concerns to technological and legal barriers. Working in teams, students conducted independent research that addressed a difficult issue in this problem space. —Dan Byman & Chris Meserole
Child exploitation images are a horrific problem. Even the most clinical descriptions (such as the 23 sites described in the Freedom Hosting NIT warrant application) turn the stomach and chill the soul. Many individuals and companies, such as Facebook, go to extraordinary efforts to fight this menace.
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.
Last fall, Lawfare published a piece by Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson of GCHQ entitled Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate.