US in group of nations calling for encryption back doors

The privacy of Internet users “is not absolute,” according to a statement from a five-country coalition that includes the United States following a meeting about security, with the overall theme demanding technology companies to make social networks and messaging services safer and to offer more support to government agencies to break encryption and access potentially sensitive data…

“Privacy laws must prevent arbitrary or unlawful interference, but privacy is not absolute,” the statement reads. “It is an established principle that appropriate government authorities should be able to seek access to otherwise private information when a court or independent authority has authorized such access based on established legal standards. The same principles have long permitted government authorities to search homes, vehicles, and personal effects with valid legal authority.”

Lockstep unity between these five English-speaking nations and they all sound like they’d have no problem with the divine right of kings, either.

OTOH, There is this letter to Washington politicians from lots of organizations concerned with our human rights – including privacy.

Apple counters FBI whining – called Feds immediately about unlocking Texas shooter’s iPhone

❝ Apple…reached out to the FBI to offer assistance in getting into the gunman’s iPhone and expedite its response to any legal process. The attack, which left 26 dead and many more injured, was committed by now-deceased Devin P. Kelley, who is confirmed to have been carrying an iPhone that may have crucial information about his activities in the lead up to the shooting.

❝ The FBI originally cast blame on Apple yesterday without mentioning the company by name, with FBI special agent Christopher Combs blaming industry standard encryption from preventing law enforcement from accessing the contents of devices owned by mass shooters…

However, a Reuters report…revealed that the FBI did not ask Apple for assistance during a critical 48-hour window, in which Kelley’s fingerprint could have still unlocked an iPhone equipped with Touch ID. (The model of Kelley’s iPhone remains unknown, as does whether he enabled Touch ID.) An Apple spokesperson…confirms it did contact the FBI with an offer of assistance upon learning of Kelley’s locked iPhone on Tuesday…

❝ In other words, the FBI appears to be using this situation as another opportunity to paint the iPhone as antagonist to law enforcement procedures, in an apparent effort to drum up support for weakening tech industry encryption

Please, please, don’t delude yourselves into accepting lies from the Feds about clean hands and principled investigations. I was one of a thousand or so Americans who won a class action suit against these creeps for illegal wiretaps, unconstitutional snooping.

They eavesdropped on everyone from civil rights activists to conservative creeps like Joe Lieberman without the least concern for law or jurisprudence. Do people think their lack of principles has been upgraded because they were caught at corrupt practices?

With Trump as the censor-in-chief, federal workers communicate with self-deleting apps, strong encryption


Ethics? What ethics?

❝ After charges that the Trump transition team was trying to scare employees at the Department of Energy — by sending a request for an inventory of all agency employees or contractors who attended meetings or conferences on climate change — some civil servants who felt they needed to protect the long-term interests of their agency and nation took to covert methods of communication. And although…White House staffers are using an app called Confide, which deletes messages once they are read, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress are now going after federal workers who use similar tools of communication.

❝ …Career employees at the Environmental Protection Agency downloaded the encryption apps WhatsApp and Signal shortly after Trump was sworn into office to discuss how to handle a potential gutting of the agency. The apps make it harder for hackers to access conversations as encryption scrambles data and lets only a person with the correct passcode have access.

❝ While most civil servants stay in their jobs from one administration to the next, regardless of who’s in power, Trump has signaled with his picks for leading certain agencies that he seeks drastic change that could lead to deep cuts…

Dissenting bureaucrats have created new email addresses in order to discuss how to deal with Trump’s political appointees without drawing the White House’s wrath…

❝ Republicans, desperate to shut down embarrassing leaks, have now set their sights on the handful of civil servants who have turned to encrypted messaging apps…Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas and Rep. Darin LaHood of Illinois…Smith and LaHood, who are chairman of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and the vice chairman of the subcommittee on oversight on the Science, Space and Tech committee respectively, argued that the use of encrypted messaging circumvents federal record-keeping laws, and asked EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. to “determine whether it’s appropriate to launch a full-scale review” of EPA workers’ use of encrypted apps.

These two patent leather-politicians aren’t qualified to run a chicken coop much less scientific oversight. It’s obvious their only concern is shutting down any information which might get to the press. Political distortions, lies and fake news chosen to replace fact-based research and development may be acceptable to creation-science nutballs and other Trump chumps. The American public writ large just might resent wasting tax dollars on Republlican mumbo-jumbo.

Congressional committee defines encryption backdoors as against national interests


CNET

❝ In a rebuke to the anti-encryption campaign waged by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation — with Apple as a target — the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Encryption Working Group issued a report today stating “any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest.”

❝ In a bipartisan report, the group observed that “any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest,” citing representatives of the national security community who noted that “strong encryption is vital to the national defense and to securing vital assets, such as critical infrastructure.”

A second finding of the report was that “encryption technology is a global technology that is widely and increasingly available around the world.” That echoed an earlier study for Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society…

❝ The HJC report further suggested that “Congress should foster cooperation between the law enforcement community and technology companies,” the same suggestion Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook made in asking that the elected representatives of the U.S. Congress work on the issue rather than having it be pushed through under court orders facilitated by the state police, invoking fears of terrorism as a emotional ploy…

❝ FBI director James Comey pursued a charm campaign using FBI press releases to insist that “the San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message,” and subsequently repeated those comments in testimony to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee…

However, Comey has a vast public record of desperately seeking to break encryption. In 2015, Comey unsuccessfully lobbied the Obama administration to press for laws empowering the police to force private companies to break their own encryption products.

Bipartisan reports are rare enough in the crapper called Congress. To have something like this roll out of a committee controlled by the latest degeneration of Republicans is amazing. The clarity and simplicity of the convincing testimony must be outstanding.

Of course, all we now need is for this to be transformed into legislation, agreed upon by both houses of Congress, and arrive on the desk of a president bright enough to understand progress, privacy rights and the gumption to sign the bill over objections from a prick like James Comey.

China’s quantum satellite is designed to teleport data and create an unbreakable code


China’s quantum satellite launched from Jiuquan, August 16thReuters/China Daily

A few days ago, China launched the world’s first quantum satellite. So what exactly does this mean?

“The satellite is designed to establish ultra-secure quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground,” Xinhua, China’s state news agency, wrote after the equipment was launched on a rocket from the Gobi desert. “It could also conduct experiments on the bizarre features of quantum theories, such as entanglement.”…

Most human technology is built around the classical physics that Isaac Newton and his inheritors came up with…When engineers hit on electricity…they perceived it in aggregate as a kind of a force; it’s either on, or it’s off. This understanding led to electric switches, which became transistors, and when you put all those transistors in a box and start turning them off and on with instructions encoded “11010001101”… it’s a computer.

But as scientists were developing electric computers in the 20th century, theorists beginning with Max Planck were ripping up the rule books. Their experiments with light suggested that something about classical physics didn’t quite add up. Soon they developed mathematical proofs to explain that the tiny particles that make up matter — protons, neutrons, and electrons — don’t necessarily behave like you would expect particles to behave. They can act as if they are in two plac es at once, for instance…This is quantum theory. The first and most famous application of these ideas came in nuclear weaponry and energy.

Physicists are still trying to agree on how classical and quantum physics come together coherently. But quantum theory already underlies a lot of modern technology; the transistors on a silicon chip, in fact, wouldn’t work without it. Now engineers are trying to apply it to more futuristic things…

Scientists have done experiments with quantum teleportation already. They have instantaneously exchanged information about the quantum states of photons, which are particles of light, transmitted 143 km between two of the Canary Islands.

But testing quantum teleportation at extremely long distances requires going to space. It’s the easiest way to set up laser communication between two distant points on the earth’s surface. That’s what the Chinese satellite, developed in cooperation with the Austrian Academy of Science, intends to do.

Besides demonstrating a super-long entanglement, the scientists working with the satellite want to test new communications technology…This is where the unbreakable code comes in…

It may be easy to see in this shades of the Cold War race for technological dominance, but Spiros Michalakis at CalTech is confident that research will be shared within the scientific community. His hope is that this experiment is the first step toward a global network of research facilities sharing access to entangled particles beamed down from space—a kind of global, cloud-based quantum computer.

At the moment, though, it’s China that looks like the pacesetter.

I expect China’s scientists will share the main body of their research. It’s only human to expect the leading edge bits and pieces may be held aside as processes and experiments are worked out. Completed experiments will be published for peer review. That’s where science is moved forward – along with specialized conferences and convocations. Conservative steps tread the stairways of real science.

OTOH, do I think White House and Pentagon eggheads and Congressional know-nothings will start to panic over a “Quantum Gap”? You betcha!

Steadily growing, the entire Web is being encrypted


Shutterstock

Apple’s move to encrypt your iPhone and WhatsApp’s rollout of end-to-end encrypted messaging have generated plenty of privacy applause and law enforcement controversy. But more quietly, a small non-profit project has enacted a plan to encrypt the entire global web. And it’s working.

Earlier this week, the San Francisco-based Internet Security Research Group announced that the initiative it calls Let’s Encrypt is coming out of beta — and that it’s making serious headway toward helping tens of millions of unencrypted sites around the world switch from the insecure web standard HTTP to HTTPS, which encrypts your web browsing to protect it from surveillance.

Since launching less than six months ago, Let’s Encrypt has helped 3.8 million websites switch to HTTPS encryption, taking a significant chunk out of the unprotected web data that’s available to those eavesdroppers…

Let’s Encrypt has tried to make it easier for websites to switch from HTTP to HTTPS by flattening one of the biggest hurdles in the process: certificates. Let’s Encrypt functions as a certificate authority, one of the dozen or so organizations like Comodo, Symantec, Godaddy and Globalsign that verify that servers running HTTPS web sites are who they claim to be…Once verified, these authorities issue those computers a “certificate” they need to make their HTTPS encryption work with your browser. The certificate is designed to be an unforgeable signature that’s cryptographically checked by your browser so that you can be sure your communications are decrypted only by the intended site and not an impostor.

Unlike commercial certificate authorities, however, Let’s Encrypt is free, thanks to corporation sponsorship from companies including Cisco, Google and Akamai. It’s available to websites anywhere in the world—even far-flung countries like Cuba and Iran that sometimes aren’t served by other major certificate authorities. And it’s automatically configured with a piece of code that runs on any server that wants to switch on HTTPS.

Guaranteed to piss off the official snoops as well as the erratically-malicious creeps on the civilian side of snooping. This doesn’t give you an invisible shield like some of the serious end-to-end encryption systems; but, it certainly makes eavesdropping a bit harder for Big Brother.

Tim Cook calls FBI claims “a crock”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook took direct aim at the FBI’s claim that increasingly sophisticated encryption technology is hiding evidence of serious crimes from law enforcement in a phenomenon described as “going dark.”

Cook said we live in a golden age of surveillance,” where more information is available about the average person than ever before — from the people you call and text, to your location, to your movements on the street captured by security cameras. The digital footprints are everywhere, he said.

“My only point is, going dark is not — this is a crock,” said Cook in an extensive interview with Time magazine. “No one’s going dark.”

Cook granted a wide-ranging interview, in which he discussed the coming court battle with the government over its request that Apple help investigators crack open an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino assailants. He talked about learning of the government suit from press reports and the “simplistic” view that the debate over encryption is a choice between privacy and security.

The Apple executive said a Congressional decision to ban encryption would do little to stop criminals from using the technology.

“The bad guys will use encryption from non-American companies, because they’re pretty smart and encryption isn’t — I don’t own encryption, Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption, as you know, is everywhere,” Cook said. “In fact, some of encryption is funded by our government. Some of the best encryption is funded by the government. But you’ll see encryption coming out of most countries in the world.”

The FBI is lying. Our government is lying. Not that this will surprise anyone.

They lied about the USA Patriot Act. They lied about “understanding” the need for encryption to protect privacy – and then turned around told the FBI to go for it against Apple as the tech leader supporting encryption in the United States.

They lie about wanting a backdoor “for just this one phone”. Using National Security as the excuse for an end to what passes for privacy in America is nothing new. And politicians who lie about their excuses, crap motives – are nothing new, either.

The full transcript of the interview is here.

FBI attack on Apple will accelerate development of government-proof devices


Reuters/Carlo Allegri

The legal showdown between Apple and U.S. law enforcement over encryption, no matter the outcome, will likely accelerate tech company efforts to engineer safeguards against government intrusion, tech industry executives say.

Already, an emerging industry is marketing super-secure phones and mobile applications…

If Apple loses the court case, the legal precedent could give the U.S. government broad authority to order companies to assist in breaking into encrypted products.

But even a government victory could have unintended consequences for law enforcement, potentially prompting a wave of investment by U.S. tech companies in security systems that even their own engineers can’t access, said Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of…Berkman Center for Internet & Society…

The fast-growing online storage provider Box has already made it a priority to give customers sole custody of data, said Joel De la Garza, chief information security officer at the company. The intent is to make it impossible for the company to access its customers’ data – even under a government order, he said.

Our goal is to achieve a `zero-knowledge’ state for the company, he said, “where our customers have total control over their data…”

In the more than two years since former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed widespread spying via U.S. companies, a handful of companies have released secure phones…that trumpet security as a prime selling point…

Those businesses could surge if the Apple fight drags on…The fight between Apple and the government could give such security efforts a new urgency.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.

Turing Award goes to programmers who modernized cryptography

Programmers Whitfield Diffie and Martin E. Hellman, who developed the first form of cryptography for the Internet era, have been awarded this year’s Turing Award. Named after famed British mathematician Alan Turing, the award is a $1 million cash prize sponsored by Google that’s given to scientists and engineers who advance the field of computing.

Diffie and Hellman are being honored for developing the first instance of public-key cryptography back in the 1970s. Called the Diffie–Hellman key exchange, the protocol established a way to send encrypted messages over public channels.

They are thoroughly hated by every sell-out politician who thinks we can give up a “portion” of our privacy, “Just a little bit” of our liberty, to make life easier for those who think we need a police state full-time.

Thanks, Re/code