Saturday, April 06, 2013

Big Brother Wants More, More, More-- Demands Apple Share Encryption Codes


If Obama isn't bad enough, imagine what's probably coming next

The Big Oil and Gas companies endangering the rest of society in their insane pursuit of profits, have refused to tell regulatory agencies which cocktail of toxic chemicals they shoot into the earth during fracking operations. They claim the formulas are "trade secrets." Apparently, our e-mails aren't.

The DEA has been trying to hack into Apple's encrypted messaging system but have thus far failed. They're making a lot of noise about Apple turning over the keys to the encryption technology to government agencies. The libertarian think tank, CATO, suspects the DEA whining could be little more than disinformation.
Tech news site CNET has an interesting, but I suspect somewhat misleading, story today suggesting that text messages sent via Apple’s iMessage service—an Internet-based alternative to traditional cell phone SMS text messages—are “impossible to intercept” by law enforcement. Yet that is not quite what the document on which the story is based-- an “intelligence note” distributed to law enforcement by the Drug Enfrocement Administration-- actually says.

The DEA memo simply observes that, because iMessages are encrypted and sent via the Internet through Apple’s servers, a conventional wiretap installed at the cellular carrier’s facility isn’t going to catch those iMessages along with conventional text messages. Which shouldn’t exactly be surprising: A search of your postal mail isn’t going to capture your phone calls either; they’re just different communications channels. But the CNET article strongly implies that this means encrypted iMessages cannot be accessed by law enforcement at all. That is almost certainly false.

...Which brings us to the question of why, exactly, this sensitive law enforcement document leaked to a news outlet in the first place. It would be very strange, after all, for a cop to deliberately pass along information that could help drug dealers shield their communications from police. One reason might be to create support for the Justice Department’s longstanding campaign for legislation to require Interent providers to create backdoors ensuring police can read encrypted communications-- even though in this case, the backdoor would appear to already exist.

The CNET article itself discusses this so-called “Going Dark” initiative. But another possible motive is to spread the very false impression that the article creates: That iMessages are somehow more difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement to intercept. Criminals might then switch to using the iMessage service, which is no more immune to interception in reality, and actually provides police with far more useful data than traditional text messages can. If that’s what happened here, you have to admire the leaker’s ingenuity—but I’m inclined to think people are entitled to accurate information about the real level of security their communication enjoy.

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At 6:13 PM, Anonymous me said...

Big Brother is watching YOU!

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

But Big Media is also watching you, to sell you to its corporate advertisers. Isn't it any wonder this is making us vulnerable to Big Government's incessant power grabs?

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous me said...

Big government? Shit, at least I can vote against them. I'm more worried about Big Corporations.


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