Bring technologists and members of the intelligence community together to figure out what to do about unbreakable encryption and guess what they conclude?
They conclude that they don’t really need to worry about it.
Unbreakable encryption—which prevents easy, conventional surveillance of digital communications—isn’t a big problem for law enforcement, says a new report published by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society on Monday. The report, titled “Don’t Panic”, finds that we are probably not “headed to a future in which our ability to effectively surveil criminals and bad actors is impossible” because of companies that offer end-to-end encryption, such as Apple.
That’s because the technology isn’t universally marketable and there are so many other spying options on the table, as everything from fitness trackers to fridges is getting hooked up to the Internet and transmitting vast amounts of data about our everyday lives.
The Berkman Center convened a diverse group of technologists, cryptographers, and former and current government officials—from think tanks, universities, the NSA, FBI, ODNI, and others— to hold meetings over the course of a year to discuss encryption privately, and then publish their conclusions.
A very public debate over encryption was taking place simultaneously. FBI Director James Comey, in hearings and speeches, has repeatedly stressed the dangers of “going dark”—saying that law enforcement is losing the ability to get its hands on digital evidence because end-to-end encryption scrambles messages for everyone except for the sender and the receiver. Even the company that sends the message can’t decrypt it when served with a warrant.
The public response from scientists and privacy advocates has largely focused on the technological impossibility of creating a secure way to give law enforcement special access to those communications without tearing a hole in the protection encryption provides.
While the signers of the report (excluding government attendees, who were unable to sign on “because of their employment”) mention this cybersecurity risk—the bigger takeaway is about why end-to-end encryption, likely here to stay, doesn’t pose an existential threat to law enforcement investigations.
First, the signatories conclude, not every company is going to jump on the end-to-end encryption bandwagon, because it’s not going to make them money. All the data that applications and cloud services and social media networks amass about their users—what kind of clothing you like to buy, what sports you play, where you eat out— is incredibly valuable to advertisers.
Facebook has claimed it can send you ads you’ll care about with 89 percent accuracy, based on where you live, your online behavior, the things you like, and other information about you like your age and gender. Plus, in case you forget your password, the company can send you the backup data kept on its own servers.
“Internet companies more recently have been shifting towards data-driven advertising, and the technology that facilitates advertising delivery has become more reliant on user data for targeting ads based on demographics and behaviors,” the report says. “Implementing end-to-end encryption by default for all, or even most, user data streams would conflict with the advertising model and presumably curtail revenues.”
Some companies have concluded that end-to-end encryption isn’t user friendly. While Facebook has supported third-party plugins for encryption on their messaging platforms, and reportedly has the ability to end-to-end encrypt its platforms by default, its former chief security officer Joe Sullivan said in 2014 that encryption makes it “hard for the average person to communicate.”
Plus, different applications, software systems, and cloud computing services are not end-to-end encrypted, even if the data is encrypted on a specific device. An Apple phone running on iOS8 or later will have its data encrypted —but many of its social media applications, as well as the automated iCloud backups, will not. This leads to “fragmentation in software ecosystems” the report concludes, which can “impede the degree to which new conventions and architectural changes – especially those that would enable user-to-user encryption across different devices and services – become widespread.”
And even if end-to-end encryption were ubiquitous, metadata — or information about the communications — is not encrypted. Phone numbers, e-mail addresses, e-mail subject lines, and other information is still accessible to law enforcement, and will continue to be, because it’s impossible for the company to send something somewhere without knowing its destination. “Encryption does not prevent intrusions at the end points, which has increasingly become a technique used in law enforcement investigations,” the authors write.
Finally, the ever-growing Internet of Things presents a whole swathe of new spying possibilities, the authors of the report suggest. “Networked sensors and the Internet of Things are projected to grow substantially, and this has the potential to drastically change surveillance,” the report says. “The still images, video, and audio captured by these devices may enable real-time intercept and recording with after-the-fact access.”
Gartner, a technology consulting firm, estimates that there will be about 6.4 billion objects connected to the Internet in the world this year—including light bulbs, watches, security systems, cameras, bracelets, digital ice cubes, digital socks, digital diapers, and more.
And unless everyone is encrypting everything all the time, investigators might be able to spy on you from the person sitting next to you on the metro, or in the office next door. “Thus an inability to monitor an encrypted channel could be mitigated by the ability to monitor from afar a person through a different channel,” the report says.
“In this report, we’re questioning whether the ‘going dark’ metaphor used by the FBI and other government officials fully describes the future of the government’s capacity to access communications,” Berkman Center fellow Bruce Schneier said in a press release. “We think it doesn’t. While it may be true that there are pockets of dimness, there are other areas where communications and information are actually becoming more illuminated, opening up more vectors for surveillance.”
The post Is Law Enforcement “Going Dark” Because of Encryption? Hardly, Says New Report appeared first on The Intercept.
FEC filings released Sunday provide an illustration of how dramatically the contributions of mega-donors eclipse those of normal citizens.
For example, billionaire George Soros gave $6 million to the pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC Priorities USA last quarter. By comparison, the average donation to the Bernie Sanders campaign – the only one mostly funded through small donors — was $26.28, according to a spokesperson for the campaign.
That means Soros gave as much money as a small city’s worth of small donors — 222,000 people, slightly larger than the population of Des Moines.
Former AIG chief Hank Greenberg gave $10 million to Jeb Bush’s Right To Rise Super PAC through his company, C.V. Starr. That’s 370,000 average Sanders donations – almost the population of New Orleans.
All of this could pale compared to the general election. The Koch-backed networks of political organizations reportedly plan to spend up to $900 million on the 2016 election; that’s 33 million small donors averaging $27 a pop. If every resident of Shanghai and New York City wrote a check for that amount, they still would not match the Kochs.
- Hillary Clinton Laughs When Asked if She Will Release Transcripts of Her Goldman Sachs Speeches
- Elizabeth Warren Challenges Clinton, Sanders to Prosecute Corporate Crime Better Than Obama
- Hillary Clinton Made More in 12 Speeches to Big Banks Than Most of Us Earn in a Lifetime
- The “Bernie Bros” Narrative: a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism
- Hillary Clinton’s Single-Payer Pivot Greased by Millions in Industry Speech Fees
Top Photo: Demonstrators in Washington, D.C. mark the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which enabled the creation of Super PACs
The post Top Hillary Clinton PAC Donation Amounts to 222,000 Bernie Sanders Donations appeared first on The Intercept.
As you all know, this year, the UK Parliament is set to vote on whether or not to replace the British Trident nuclear weapons system at an estimated cost of over £180 billion ($260 billion) and at a time when the government is slashing public spending on vital areas such as education, health and welfare services.
The majority of people of the world want to see positive steps taken towards global nuclear disarmament – but talks and negotiations have been stalled for years. The majority of people in the UK, including the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and other parliamentary party leaders, oppose nuclear weapons – now is an excellent time for a call to scrap them – not replace them.
The UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is therefore organising a national demonstration to protest against Britain’s Trident on Saturday 27th in London. This message to ‘Stop Trident’ could prove to be a vital intervention ahead of the Parliamentary discussion.
Please help us to get the message out loud and clear: we don’t want a new Trident, we don’t want the current Trident – and the world doesn’t want nuclear weapons. We invite the international community to join us in saying “No” to UK government plans and “Yes” to global nuclear disarmament – the longer these weapons exist, the greater the possibility that they will be used.
a) Join us in London on 27th February – for more information see: http://www.cnduk.org/
b) Come along to our special international planning meeting in London on the 28th February (see attached details) – please let us know if you are coming to this – contact: *protected email*
c) Please send messages and/or short videos of support to: *protected email*
d) Hand in letters of protest to British Embassies and other representatives.
Thank you – together we can abolish nuclear weapons once and for all.
In deep mourning
No to War—No to NATO
takes farewell of Seamas Rattigan.
We have lost a great friend, a courageous anti-war activist, and a tireless proponent for a just world and neutral Ireland.
Nach monatelangem Tauziehen können die Abgeordneten des Bundestags seit dem heutigen Montag eine zeitlich strikt begrenzte Einsicht in die Verhandlungsdokumente zum transatlantischen Freihandelsabkommen TTIP nehmen. In einem eigens dafür eingerichteten Leseraum im Bundeswirtschaftsministerium dürfen die Parlamentarier die geheimen Papiere lesen. Für die Abgeordneten gelten allerdings strenge Regeln: So müssen sie beispielsweise ihr Mobiltelefon abgeben, damit sie keine Fotos von den vertraulichen Dokumenten machen können. Ein Sicherheitsbeamter werde „während der gesamten Dauer Ihres Besuches anwesend sein“, wie aus einem Merkblatt für die Parlamentarier hervorgeht.
Über das Gelesene müssen sie Verschwiegenheit wahren, eine Offenlegung von Textinhalten kann strafrechtliche Konsequenzen nach sich ziehen. Zudem
In Großbritannien sollen Forscher künftig das Erbgut menschlicher Embryonen gezielt verändern dürfen. Die zuständige Behörde HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) erlaubte am Montag dem Londoner Francis Crick Institute, solche Versuche an Embryonen bis zum Alter von sieben Tagen mithilfe neuer Techniken durchzuführen. Damit wollen Wissenschaftler die Erfolgsrate künstlicher Befruchtungen steigern. Die Erlaubnis gelte aber ausschließlich zu Forschungszwecken, betonte die Behörde. Veränderte Embryonen dürften keiner Frau eingesetzt werden. Bevor das Forscherteam starten kann, muss noch eine Ethikkommission zustimmen.
Insbesondere interessiert die Wissenschaftler des Instituts, warum es zu Fehlgeburten kommt und wie diese verhindert werden können. Dazu müsse man „verstehen, welche Gene