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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Developers cannot build software that allows law enforcement to access encrypted communications but prevents malicious actors from exploiting that access. Cryptography cannot distinguish good people from bad, so a backdoor for one is a backdoor for all. Undermining the encryption used by U.S. companies would place the average consumer at risk of attack by malicious third parties, and merely motivate criminals and terrorists to use one of many alternative options. Powerful cryptography tools can easily be built outside the United States; as the self-declared Islamic State’s use of German messaging service Telegram demonstrates, software rarely respects borders.

Sara Sinclair Brody

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24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • mojo

    Apple can already provide access to the encrypted disk, but not in the open state. They can only facilitate another attack, brute force or whatever. That’s why the passcode timeouts/wipe option is there in the first place, but there is little the manufacturer cannot do, given physical access to the device. Going after the symmetric algo’s random-number password comes to mind, with known disk layout marks as a crib.

  • mojo

    Password? Key. Apple-polly-logies.

  • Laird

    There are substantial issues at stake here, far beyond the encryption problem, having to do with the operation of the US legal system itself (i.e., the right of anyone criminally charged as a result of information thus obtained to cross-examine the engineers who designed the new code; probably defense access to the code itself [for which there is already legal precedent]; chain-of-custody issues; etc.). These are detailed in Apple’s brief, which is worth reading by anyone who thinks it should simply have acceded to the government’s demands. And of course, once that can of worms has been opened Apple (and all other similar companies) will be besieged by similar demands in endless other cases, both in the US and abroad. Ultimately there will be no cell phone privacy for anyone.

    In this case the government went to the judge in private (an “ex parte proceeding”) to request this Order, and in my opinion the judge was inadequately advised (if not actively mislead) by the government’s attorneys. I predict that the Order will be vacated by the same magistrate judge who was talked into issuing it (I’m sure she had no idea what she was getting into, and assumed this was a fairly routine matter), and the issue will die there (i.e., the government won’t even try to appeal).

  • John Galt III

    The problem is not Apple – it is the importation of Muslims. They are a Trojan Horse. The Muslims know this. Obama knows this. Many in government bureaucracies know this. Hard leftists know this and that is why it is happening.

    The average person does not. The average person is in for a surprise.

  • Maximo Macaroni

    What nonsense. Should any terrorist be able to buy an iPhone and hide whatever information he wants on it with impunity? Nonsense.

  • Chester Draws

    Should any terrorist be able to buy an iPhone and hide whatever information he wants on it with impunity? Nonsense.

    No, they shouldn’t. But in the real world they should be detained from the start.

    Problem is that in the real we can’t tell a terrorist from a non-terrorist. So, rather than no-one having secure information, we take the view that everyone should have secure information.

    Unless you want all your personal details –school records, medical records, phone conversations etc to be public.

  • Regional

    During the early 1940s Britain didn’t respect the integrity of official German communications but today that’s an invasion of privacy.

  • Ed Snack

    Apple however aren’t (yet anyway) being asked to design or implement a version of iOS with a backdrop that is outside their control. All they are being asked to do is to create a version of iOS that has no bar on brute force attacks. With modern iPhones one can use a long password that is still effectively immune to brute force attacks.

    What this is, IMHO, an attempt to establish a precedent so that law enforcement can request this same solution for any iPhone they wish. It may require a warrant each time and hence it would need some qualification (probable cause), but basically it would open any iPhone without a complex password to decryption via brute force. And it goes wider, if the US Government has that “right” then presumably Apple is almost certainly bound to apply the same logic to any government demand from any government, and very few have even th safeguards that US law provides.

    I predict that the iPhone 7 will have some “fix” applied so that this tactic will no longer be applicable, so Apple will cut off the ability to upload an iOS update that circumvents the security. Which will be a pity as this will prevent the recovery of valid owner requests to restore access to iPhones.

  • Edward

    John Galt III – Replace “Muslims” with “Japanese” and you could’ve been posting 75 years ago. Replace “Muslims” with “Germans”, 100 years ago. Replace “Muslims” with “Jews” and hell, pick your slot. And go on, Chinese, Italians, Irish, Mexicans. Bullshit then. Bullshit now.

    Maximo Macaroni – Anyone should be able to purchase a device and be guaranteed it’ll hold his information absolutely securely. Want to get into it? Serve him a warrant… and he can exercise his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to refuse.

    Strange that it’s not more widely reported that the only reason the FBI can’t access the phone’s data is because some idiot in law enforcement reset the phone’s passcode

  • Keith Johnson

    Should any terrorist be able to buy an iPhone and hide whatever information he wants on it with impunity? Nonsense.

    The actual question is ‘should any person be able to buy an iPhone and hide whatever information he wants on it with impunity?’

    Firstly, until conviction no one is a terrorist (vis a vis the judicial system). It is important to remember this whenever ‘but what about for terrorists’ comes up.

    Mainly, however, it is impossible to provide said impunity for non-terrorists and have the ability to revoke it for those we would like to prosecute.

  • The problem is not Apple – it is the importation of Muslims

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with Muslims and everything to do with the state seeking to expand its power.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I know we’re all in a bit of a tizz over here in libertarian land, but spare a thought for the impact of the unfolding situation in lefty utopia, on one side we have the anti-capitalist nightmare of big corporations telling elected officials what to do, on the other we have the imperialist government trying to extract information to defeat their beloved “freedom fighter” brothers. Whose side should they choose? I’ll just grab my popcorn.

  • CaptDMO

    Amusing arguments.
    It’s almost as if the information in question WASN’T already in the hands (or data banks…so plausible deniability of “possession” ) of
    “certain” folks entrusted with contra constitutional activities, and aren’t simply looking for “public approval” to use/sell it to the highest bidder, or “political interest” of “favored status”.
    I’m pretty sure this is how internet “history” data mining entered into the long, complicated, user agreements, previously followed by an “I agree” electronic “signature”, and, more recently, by
    the “educational” institutional ploy of “Here are the rules, NO exceptions, NO appeals, except for “special” folks”, well AFTER the application, acceptance, and, “tuition/room/food plan/”student activities”/designated textbook checks, have all cleared.
    I COULD be wrong, of course, but history of the human condition dictates…..

  • CaptDMO

    “Developers cannot build software that allows law enforcement to access encrypted communications but prevents malicious actors from exploiting that access.”
    Oxymoron.
    But yes, yes “they” can.
    SEE: Air gap.

  • Tedd

    MM asks the wrong question. The first question is: Should MM be allowed to buy an iPhone and hide whatever information he wants on it with impunity? To which the answer, obviously, is yes. MM’s question must always be secondary to that first question.

  • If the killers’ phone had been unlocked, or their password deducible, I suggest none of us would be much concerned that the FBI were able to read just that one phone – because that would not change the degree of security or vulnerability of any other phone. I submit, firstly, that the issue is entirely about the consequences of _how_ the FBI are enabled to read the phone? Will it enable them to read others.

    Secondly, I submit that both the FBI and the CEO of Apple are being thoroughly disingenuous – the second quite as much as the first. The FBI is proposing a method which it presents as “just this phone” but which raises just concerns that they will later be able to unlock it to work on any phone. Apple wraps itself in a mantle of high-mindedness to conceal that it can unlock its phones with ease – and that it resists the FBI’s agenda but has agendas of its own. The brief’s accusation that Apple is in fact concerned with image is true. And Apple’s accusation that the FBI seeks the ability to compromise other phones is also true, though not in the way they present it.

    I’ve already detailed – in comments on PerryM’s earlier post about this – how I think a solution requiring Apple and the FBI’s joint-custody-of-phone prevents some of the dangers. After it, Apple would remain able to crack its phones, but it is less able than the FBI physically to seize phones. The FBI would remain able to seize a lot of things, but they’d be no more able than before to unlock that type of phone without getting another court order and going through another “joint custody with Apply during unlocking” episode. In a world where terrorists murder, governments spy on citizens, and corporations can be captured by SWJ activists, such a separation-of-powers solution might be better than some.

    Of course, both parties are now locked into their PR positions, so the chance of sense prevailing is slight.

  • Laird

    Niall, your reference to “the brief” is apparently to the government’s filing of last Friday (which was unnecessary, unusual and not very well written); I strongly suggest that you read Apple’s brief (I provided a link above). Your comments, both here and on the other thread, are simply naïve. Your “joint custody” idea cannot work, and more importantly if the FBI is permitted to force Apple to create special software “just this once” it will open that avenue up for future abuse every time any government (federal, state or foreign) claims it has some “pressing need”. This infant must be strangled in its crib.

    Of course both parties have their own agendas; everyone always does. But Apple’s is harmless, whereas the government’s is extremely pernicious. I submit that the fact that they made a very public issue about seeking that Order against Apple, rather than filing it in camera and keeping the whole matter secret, strongly suggests that: (1) they don’t really believe there is any actionable data on the phone (or they wouldn’t have alerted potential targets to the search); (2) they don’t actually expect to win the legal argument; and (3) they are using this spectacularly heinous event to arose public support for gaining a power which Congress has specifically and repeatedly denied them (as is detailed in Apple’s brief). It is the government’s actions throughout this whole matter, rather than Apple’s, which are highly suspicious and probably wholly disingenuous.

    Apple is 100% correct on the legal merits of this case. The government is waging a public relations battle here, under the guise of a legal one, in a fairly transparent attempt to expand its powers even farther. It must be stopped.

  • Bod

    And really, let’s be honest. As soon as Apple have an ‘official’ compromised security port of iOS available for deployment “only when it’s really really needed” -, how long would you honestly expect it to be kept out of the hands of the FBI or the NSA? Look at the persistent unwarranted use of Stingray devices in the US to get a feel for the scope of the abuse of decryption technology.

    The only reliable way of denying such code to the government is to not create it in the first place – assuming it doesn’t already exist – which is kinda naïve in itself.

    And that doesn’t address the possibility that the FBI bribe a porting engineer or two to do some part time consulting work for them.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Remember RICO.

  • Roue le Jour

    Is the end of Rico? 😉

    Anyway, if you’re up to no good, consider a Huawei. I suspect the feds don’t have much clout with them.

  • Roue le Jour, the feds think everybody is up to no good.

  • John Galt III

    Edward,

    You truly are a fool and an idiot. The West and especially the US is losing its freedoms because of the importation of a group of people (Muslims) who want to take over the world and have said so for 1,400 years.

    You mentioned the Germans, Japanese, Jews, Chinese, Italians and so forth as being comparable. All these groups came to the US as immigrants. Not one of these groups came to crush Western Civilization as part of their philosophy. Read this from the Muslim Brotherhood – these are their words. Then find the comparable fundamental pronouncements by other immigrant groups that say the same thing. You can’t. You are a liar and a fool.

    In the video below you can hear Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA — from the 6th District, next door to ours) read out the infamous quote from the Explanatory Memorandum:

    The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

    http://gatesofvienna.net/2016/02/will-congress-designate-the-muslim-brotherhood-a-foreign-terrorist-organization/

  • Julie near Chicago

    Good link, JGIII. Thanks.

    One thing striking is that Baron (or whoever actually wrote the posting — I didn’t think to check) really laid out the outline of the MB’s activities, especially of infiltration, over the last 3 decades or so. (Maybe more.) It’s a perfect replay of what the Soviet Communists managed to finesse here, starting around 1920 I suppose. (Leftists acting up before that, of course.)