back to article Tech firms fight anti-encryption demands after Paris murders

Anti-encryption sentiment among politicians is rising following the Paris terror attacks, but Silicon Valley firms are so far resisting attempts to weaken crypto systems to allow easier access to private communications for law enforcement and intel agencies. WhatsApp on Android and Apple's iMessage (as well as other …

  1. kmac499

    Join up your thinking

    Dianne Feinstein, "If you create a product that allows evil monsters.... – that is a big problem.”

    Yeah Diane tell that to the NRA and the rest of your gun nuts.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Join up your thinking

      "American senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the US Senate Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC: "If you create a product that allows evil monsters to communicate in this way, to behead children, to strike innocents – whether it's at a game in a stadium, in a small restaurant in Paris, take down an airline – that is a big problem.”"

      How did they get to those places - by road. What did the Romans ever do for us?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Romans taught us how to handle slaves

        Romans gave us a lot, including many lessons on how to handle slaves and the first lesson is to keep them on a tight leash. Today that leash is digital and around every neck.

    2. Mike Bell

      Re: Join up your thinking

      Dear Dianne Feinstein,

      God created such a product. It's called whispering.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: Join up your thinking

        And his son taught us the answer to whispering:


        Not just shouting FUCK THEM! so much as repeating what the liars and cheats say out loud to everyone. Once everyone has the courage to become a Snowden the monsters can't harm us can they?

    3. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Join up your thinking

      Yeah Diane tell that to the NRA and the rest of your gun nuts.

      I believe she has sent that message quite clearly, but the NRA et al. are not interested in what she has to say.

    4. Mike Moyle

      Re: Join up your thinking

      FWIW, Senator Feinstein has a 0% rating from the National Rifle Association.

      There are plenty of other things that Feinstein is guilty of -- and I've been annoyed by her since I was living in exile in California in the late '80s -- but being a gun supporter is TOTALLY not one of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Join up your thinking

        I'm a rare breed, naturally occuring, but oft emigrated; A native Californian. I loathe her, her husband, and all the methods they manipulate the "system" to their own ends.

    5. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      The sheriff of Youtube

      It doesn't matter how many videos you publish openly, those gun nuts are impervious. The same is true for any politician who cares to hide facts and tell lies.

      I was reading a portion of the Holy Bible last night, a book designed for keeping open secrets. Consider Revelation chapter 13 for example.

      Would these governments ban messages from god?

      The fact is that if the governments pass laws that are unpopular all they will meet with is resistance not obedience. Isn't that what caused the Arab Spring and wasn't western interference and bungling exactly what the weapons makers wanted: For them to fail?

  2. Velv
    Big Brother

    The gene is out of the bottle. End to end encryption with the user holding the keys is available open source.

    Even if big tech did, or was forced, to capitulate and provide "access" to their products, there will always be alternatives they do not control.

    And if we give up our freedoms to the government, or any other organisation, the terrorists have won.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And if we give up our freedoms to the government, or any other organisation, the terrorists have won.

      Not really. If we give up our freedoms to the government or other organisation, it's actually only the *government* which has won.

      Oh wait, I guess you were right after all.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Here we go again

    New list of banned products that might be used by bad people:








    pen & paper


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not this crap again...

    So... the terrorists are now going to communicate in plain-text because encryption is outlawed?

    1. murri

      Re: Not this crap again...

      Seems logical, but don't we ban guns here in Europe for a reason although criminals have access to them?

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Not this crap again...

        Dunno about that, my friends currently stationed in Germany and was telling me you can get a Glock for about 230 Euros, thats legally for hunting.

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Technology will not help when the problem is on the human side.

    1. Suspects (at least the key ones) were known to the police. Data was available, humint in both Belgium and France failed to draw the lines between the dots.

    2. Technology has failed to spot fake passports issued to same individual. It is laughable that Greece which pretends to be in Shengen did not spot a duplicate passport and Serbians picked up the fake Ahmad Almohammad(s) without having access to the Shengen database.

    So for starters - remove Greece from Shengen until it sorts out its human + technological side to Shengen requirements. In fact, I do not see how they were admitted in the first place without having an electronic birth certificate register till 2 years ago (something which the supposedly backwater Bulgaria and Romania has had since the early 1970-es). As a side effect this will force full reprocessing and readmittance of all refugees including checks of documents as they should be done to the Shengen standard.

    1. Joe Werner Silver badge

      Re: Technology will not help when the problem is on the human side.

      1) my thoughts exactly. Quite a part of the last attacks were delivered by "S" rated people (the letter they put on the records to point them out as a potential threat). However, they have far too many French with the "S" remark in their database to really keep them all covered adequately.

      …and yes, the science behind strong cryptography is available to world and dog, no way to withold that information. However I guess by making communicating with strong cryptography a crime they can catch a ton of criminals (who are actually only concerned about their online banking and stuff…)

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Re: Technology will not help when the problem is on the human side.

        >by making communicating with strong cryptography a crime they can catch a ton of criminals.

        You can only police by the ton if you paint the criminals all the same colour.

        But what is to stop you using book codes or pattern recognition software?

        The secret of sending strongly protected secrets openly has been well known ever since there were secrets. The idea of searching people for them has only ever been used by bullies at airports and similar places. Just try and imagine the mentality of someone who imagines security is a good job for a human being. It's a job requiring a crotch sniffer with a personality one step above the mentality of a dog.

        By Victorian times Englishmen had got into the habit of dealing with dogs by carrying a big stick. You just hook its collar and keep pedalling until the dog is retrained. It's amazing how soon they learn!

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Technology will not help when the problem is on the human side.

      Italy embassy in Santo Domingo was shut down after it issued visas to people who had them refused by Spain previously (they were caught while attempting to enter Spain). Recently a prostitution network was shutdown, and was found women entered Europe using "fake" passports issued in Lagos (and with a visa). It was "lucky" it was just poor women, and not Boko Haram terrorists...

      Passports and visas are today a great revenues source for gov/embassies/consulates employees ready to be bribed - but they are highly protected because, hey, they're in the diplomatic carreer, aren't they?

      It looks there are far more basic security issues than strong encryption.

    3. Tony S

      Re: Technology will not help when the problem is on the human side.

      "1. Suspects (at least the key ones) were known to the police.

      Totally agree; I believe that it's been identified that most of them had been flagged several times for surveillance.

      I also understand that a mobile the original group used, was found on site; and that this was the key source of information that lead the police to the second group in St Denis. They had previously had access to that info, but it was only of value once they recovered the phone, due to the amount of data being held on / about the suspects.

      If the mass trawl of data that is being demanded had actually been available, it's quite probable that it was have been completely subsumed in a way that would have hindered the police, rather than helped them.

      2. Technology has failed to spot fake passports issued to same individual.

      I was talking to the immigration staff at one of the regional airports; they had become quite good at spotting fakes, but still believed that about 10% were getting through.

      The technology has also failed to spot legitimate passports issued to the same person. (But I've also seen people pass through customs in some countries carrying a passport that was not theirs, and they received no more than a brief glance.)

    4. Triggerfish

      Re: Technology will not help when the problem is on the human side.

      I have to agree here, it seems the problem is not so much they could not get the data, more they did not follow it. Maybe less money on info gathering tech and more money on analysts to make sense of it might be an idea.

    5. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Re: Technology will not help when the problem is on the human side.

      FirstIy, have never heard about Shengen but I did try to get a copy of my birth certificate a couple of years ago. It took me a while to realise I was born in another county but that never stopped me eventually getting one by just changing one word in a public library's computer -in another country.

  6. xj650t

    At least the terrorists will be easy to spot

    They'll be the only ones using strong encryption.


  7. WonkoTheSane
    Big Brother

    Gubmint ignorance AGAIN!

    This week's "Government-enforced backdoor" will become next week's "Haxxor's catflap".

    All it needs is for an official to leave their encryption key on the bus, AGAIN!

    1. streaky

      Re: Gubmint ignorance AGAIN!

      Well this is how you get them to shut up.

      You basically say we'll do it if you accept financial and legal liability when HSBC are asset stripped by the Russia mob and they have not a penny to their name and it's all your fault.

      Strong cypto is fundamental to the national security and economic well-being (yes I did in intentionally rip those words directly from the text of art 8 of the ECHR) of most of the states in the world and any attempts to weaken it hurt not terrorists or criminals but everybody else.

      They all need to be told to sit back down, in no uncertain terms.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gubmint ignorance AGAIN!

        You basically say we'll do it if you accept financial and legal liability

        If "you" is the government, then it's ultimately "us/we".

        1. streaky

          Re: Gubmint ignorance AGAIN!

          If "you" is the government, then it's ultimately "us/we"

          Net result yes - though it'd be made plain this is the case and I can't see voters or taxpers liking this reality when they're told about it; and whoever is in government would know this.

          Explanation: If you ask people if the government should be able to decrypt things the majority will probably lean right and say something something pedos and terrorists but if you inform them when it goes wrong it's coming out their wallets and/or insurance premium increases they'll probably accept the reality that neither governments or private businesses are capable of dealing with the security requirements of such a thing and they won't like it - which is why it would work.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tis the season

    Xmas has surely come early for the spooks, and anti-encryption brigade ;)

  9. petur


    It turns out the Paris attackers used plain SMS to communicate, this whole hidden encryption of terrorists bullshit has got to stop.

    Maybe the powers that are can explain why they weren't even able to spot what was going on in the unencrypted SMS communication?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: WRONG

      Maybe because they shouldn't have been reading it without a warrant.

      And those warrants are so hard to get, you need to convince a judge and everything...

      The VCR legality case, where significant non infringing rights were established, seem s applicable here. There are significant non infringing uses for cryptographics. Therefore they should remain legal, despite the potential for 'missing' a terrorist you knew about anyway...

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: WRONG

        Telcos made far too easy, for pure business reasons - aka money - to get a new SIM without much trouble. And they are not so keen on blocking stolen SIM/phones for the same reaon.

        It takes very little to use a phone never used before and thereby not under control. Also, using a code - just like Allies did to send message to French resistance - *any* message could trigger the worst.

        Without any need of encryption.

        1. petur

          Re: WRONG

          Here in Belgium they just announced that anonymous SIM cards will be something from the past soon

          - as if the seller in the phone shop will recognize the fake ID card... *sigh*

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: WRONG

            Why fake? Full body burka and any female ID card with a middle-eastern sounding name will do.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WRONG

          It takes near zero effort to appropriate a phone's SMS system, just never receive them on the same phone, and only slightly more to set such channels, completely legally with bogus information. Two minutes tops.

          Who needs encryption? THEY sure didn't and even used legit phones. Shit.

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: WRONG

          just like Allies did to send message to French resistance - *any* message could trigger the worst.

          But, quite like an OTP, you need to get the meaning of the code message to the recipient(s) via a secure channel beforehand.

          "Blessent mon cœur d'une langueur monotone "

    2. Velv

      Re: WRONG

      Encryption of messages is available so all the terrorists must be using it therefore we don't need to watch the unencrypted channels because no idiot would ever use an unencrypted channel for terrorist communications. <#SookLogic>

      The spooks forgot that anyone who would kill themselves for a deity is basically an idiot.

  10. Bogle
    Black Helicopters

    Don't look here - look there!

    Surely our feckless and ignorant but devious and amoral overlords can't really be *this* stupid. This is politics to garner attention and win votes, surely, whilst keeping us blind to their true plan.

    What's the real agenda? Simple distraction from the foreign policy and military disasters in the Middle East that have created ISIS? An opportunity to bung some more cash into the security services? A desire to subdue the population at home? I think I can rule out oil for once, as it's just not worth that much anymore.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't look here - look there!

      I think Cyrus wants to be president some day.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't look here - look there!

      Surely our feckless and ignorant but devious and amoral overlords can't really be *this* stupid.

      I don't think they are stupid at all. They are hoping that we are stupid, or at least stupid enough to roll over and allow wholesale removal of our basic human rights on the bogus pretext that it will help to keep us safe.

      Trouble is, a quick trawl through Facebook and Twitter responses suggests that they may be right.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't look here - look there!

      You're making out that this is a failed policy at every dimension. I do wonder if most/much of this is by intent. The overarching objective intent, upon a security (or intellectual property for that matter) event is to force monitoring of all communication channel with reduced/removable encryption. Despite all evidence that several of the attackers already known to security services and none of them used encryption. Still looking for the situation that gets this nail hammered in.

  11. Wayland Sothcott 1

    Real Time Messages

    So during the attacks they would not need to use encryption since there is not enough time to use the intercepted messages to get ahead f them. During the social media phase they are not using encryption. During the planning is the only time encryption would be an advantage. If people want to communicate secretly then they can unless someone on the inside leaks the info.

  12. Your alien overlord - fear me

    The US Senate has an Intelligence Committee? Oxymoron surely?

    Back on topic...

    Keep encryption secure. That way the bad people will keep using it. How does that help the authorities? Simple, lulls them into a false sense of security and allows the intel agencies to install keyloggers, malware etc. on the devices. The intel agencies then get specific intel on only the bad guys and leaves the rest of the world alone.

    1. Captain DaFt

      "The US Senate has an Intelligence Committee?"

      Yes, and unfortunately, it's way more effective at preventing intelligence than the drug committee is at preventing illegal drugs, or the poverty committee at preventing poverty, or the homeless... well, you get the idea.

  13. Laura Kerr

    Another braind-dead politician

    "Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the US Senate Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC: "If you create a product that allows evil monsters to communicate... that is a big problem.”

    Numpty. Numpty.

    First of all, there are other ways of communicating than via the Internet, and encrypted comms can still be used for traffic analysis, as any fule kno. If you're using the Internet, then unless you can guarantee to be sending directly peer-to-peer, without routing packets through ANY third-party box, someone can snoop on your traffic. And you cannot guarantee a peer-to-peer connection unless the boxes are physically plugged into each other. I don't think Ethernet cables can be thousands of miles long, so as soon as you ban encryption, you drive the real threat underground. Granted, a ban might catch some low-grade idiots, but you don't need the Internet for electronic comms. Someone explain FTNs, dial-up SLIP and UUCP to her, please. I'm suffering from idiocy overload.

    Because the real threat comes from the ideologies of IS and the like, coupled with a failure by the West to understand that their world view differs so radically from ours. Western military tactics are based on the assumption that one's opponent ultimately wants to survive, and once a sufficiently hard beating has been administered, peace negotiations get under way. That's largely why the Mutual Assured Destruction détente worked during the Cold War - had either Russia or America thought that martyrdom was some sort of norm, our planet would now be a radioactive cinder.

    From a long trawl through various media analyses and nutters' webshites, it seems to me that IS are either poor tacticians who don't understand the West's capabilities, or they genuinely do want all-out war, and don't care if they lose it. There could well be both camps present within the organisation. It's difficult to be sure either way; take the downing of the Russian airliner over Sinai, for example. Leaving the possibility of a false flag attack aside for a moment, good tacticians would have left the plane severely alone, as it posed no military threat, and they knew that provoking Russia would be a monumentally stupid thing to do. Poor tacticians might think that waving a Kalashnikov at a video camera is all the defence they need against an angry Kremlin. And the warmongering nutter, of course, won't care either way.

    No, Dianne, pontificating about encryption won't make a blind bit of difference; in fact if you do ban it, you'll make the security services; jobs more difficult. You - in fact the whole West - need to concentrate on undermining and discrediting the jihadist ideology. And more importantly, you need to do that in terms that Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures can relate to - because trying to solve the problem by enforcing Western values on the Middle East amounts to nothing more than throwing petrol on a forest fire.

    1. Palpy

      Re: Another braind-dead politician

      Laura, I suspect that ISIS' strategy in provoking the West may be to demonstrate the kind of destructive ability that will attract recruits most prone to crazed radicalism.

      They may also have a clearer view of history than most Western strategists: namely, that Russia failed to defeat insurgents in Afghanistan; the US failed against guerrilla forces in Vietnam and failed to destroy either the Taliban or Al Qaeda in Afghanistan; that the US failed to quell insurgency before leaving Iraq. That, in fact, in the post WWII world it has become virtually impossible for a great power to destroy an established and determined insurgent force.

      (This is absolutely tragic, because it implies that the greatest military forces in the world cannot be used to solve the problem of brutal terrorist cults like ISIS and Boko Haram. Another way must be found.)

      So anyways, ISIS probably believes it cannot be stopped on the ground... not as long as it keeps recruits and money coming in, and keeps the fever of radicalized religion burning hot. That is the point of the attacks: keep the fever hot. "See how we strike at the vipers of the West? See how they persecute and hate Muslims now?"

      But whatever. Back on-topic: yep, attacking encryption is nonsensical. We desperately need tacticians and strategists who can think clearly, and clearly we don't have them.

      1. Laura Kerr
        Thumb Up

        @Palpy Re: Another brain-dead politician

        Corrected my spelling :-)

        You're absolutely spot-on. The whole Western military strategy since WW2 was geared up to confronting the Soviet Union. I think it's difficult in particular for the US to change tack, due to the sheer size of its military; the old analogy of steering a supertanker comes to mind.

        Having said that, it's forty years since the US were kicked out of Vietnam, so there has been plenty of opportunity to take the lessons on board. Sadly, all that seems to have come out of that is a self-imposed mandate that 'we're better than you are', with a implementation consisting of trying to enforce democracy at gunpoint, as happened in Afghanistan and Irag.

        I think the West, particularly the US, has to hoist in that a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work, and that we don't have the right to impose our will across the planet just because we've got lots of weapons. There has to be a recognition that contrasting cultures can co-exist and respect one another. We lambast places like Saudi Arabia and Iran over their human rights records, but if we recognised that it's not the West's job to try forcing our values on theirs, and changed our approach accordingly, we might see some real progress.

        That would have to go hand-in-hand with military containment, though, at least until the IS nutters were as widely condemned in the Islamic world as they are in the West. We can hope...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Laura Re: @Palpy Another brain-dead politician

          For a short while we had the US Army's Light Infantry Divisions, exactly the right force when working with special forces and particularly relevant in the age of the drone. They were phased out before they became relevant. This only addresses a part of the problem. The US forces have always tried to structure themselves as a force of liberation. Once the required ass-kicking was over and done, our civil-affairs people were in there to stand up something resembling a republic/democracy, police, and just right-sized military. Having to deal with countries, if you can consider a collection of tribes a country, with no tradition of any of those items is more than a bit frustrating, especially those of us (me, my relatives, and in-laws) at the sharp end of our Big Stick. Having political masters that promise a quick end to "the occupation" is just as frustrating. Germany, NATO, Japan, South Korea, the list is rather long on occupation, even when it's just helping a friend or reassuring the surrounding area about that country.

          Liberation not Occupation. Cohesive not Mish-Mash countries. Heavy-Hand to light-touch over extended Decadal time frame, ... all things which do not describe any modern engagements. My Mom has a doctorate in anthropology and while a bit tough to nail down to any sub-discipline (we heart social sciences) wrote it on religion. She's scored 100% for how every military and political-economy engagement has played out. The scary part was her prescient description of Blackhawk Down before we sent troops into Somalia. Now true, being ex-career US Navy (before I showed up unexpectedly to a mutually infertile couple while thirty-one) surely helps to keep that lens firmly in place, it's not like any of this is rocket science or engineering of any kind. (She can do that too. Spent many a CON night hanging with E.E."Doc" Smith, Fletcher Pratt, ...). We have Staff and War colleges for this. Surely we have cultural anthropologist types in military intelligence. Or do we?

          /s/frustrated ET1

          1. Laura Kerr

            Re: @Laura @Palpy Another brain-dead politician

            "Having to deal with countries, if you can consider a collection of tribes a country, with no tradition of any of those items is more than a bit frustrating, especially those of us (me, my relatives, and in-laws) at the sharp end of our Big Stick."

            And that is the crux of the problem. Many Middle Eastern societies are tribal in nature and loyalty to the tribe over-rules any adherence to the nation state. Not only that, but they tend to be patriarchal in nature, and defer to the wisdom of the tribal and family elders. You could argue that's not necessarily a bad thing; it allows for things to be guided by experience rather than the vagaries of hot-headed youth, but OTOH, it leads to ingrained conservatism, which is why attempts to impose the Western model of a nation state just don't work.

            Patriarchy takes precedence in democratic societies, too. If a tribal or family elder instructs people to vote for a certain candidate, that is exactly what they will do. We even see that here in the UK among Asian communities. Whenever it's uncovered, a lot of noise is made about vote-rigging, but unless people are prepared to stand up to their own families, there's nothing the authorities can do. Often, too, there's no coercion involved - the people vote in accordance with their elders' wishes because that's the done thing.

            That state of affairs is the complete opposite of the Western model, and when attempts are made to impose that model following a sustained onslaught of high explosives, it's perfectly understandable that Middle Eastern people just aren't up for it. Without widespread support, it becomes child's play to undermine the fledgling democracy by using its own mechanisms against it. Look at how Hitler gained and consolidated his power. Same with Mugabe.

            The bottom line is that unless it's possible to instil a deep-rooted belief in democracy right across the board, and ensure that it stays there throughout several generations, it's bound to fail when confronted with stronger social mores. The only way Middle Eastern countries have been held together since the fall of the Ottoman Empire was via military occupation by France and Britain and then via brutal oppression - Saudi Arabia, the Shah's Iran, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Bashar al-Assad's Syria and so on.

            I admit I don't have all the answers, but it seems to me that some sort of federal alliance based on tribal or religious allegiances might be a solution, with enforced democracy taken out of the equation entirely. They'll have to embrace democracy in their own time, or it'll be doomed to failure.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Laura @Palpy Another brain-dead politician

              I'd think some sort of a Board of Governors, sized by population, might work. You could scale with population growth but that might be problematic. Have a large enough size so that it doesn't turf out any tribal group. Then forming consensus is a high priority. Fer instanz, distribution of Iraqi oil revenues would require a consensus between at least two of the groups and, in case you weren't paying attention, the Kurds actually wanted some of the revenues to go to the Sunnis. Which happens to be one of the triggers over their (Sunnis) support for ISIS/ISIL/Da'esh.

              Ask around with sociologists and/or anthropologists whether a super Tribal council would be workable. Other, better, ideas might shake loose. BTW, this wouldn't work in Somalia, ever.

  14. Tim #3

    According to Bruce Schneier's blog today, the Paris attackers used no encryption. Also same reported on Slashdot now.

    1. Adam 1

      Ban no encryption now!

  15. Sir Alien

    Remove all classic politicians...

    The government should be run by engineers. Pushing the boundaries and pushing for progress.

    And in most instances, engineers actually have a clue what they are talking about. Current politicians and current politics is all about control, power and ass kissing.

    - S.A

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Remove all classic politicians...

      The primary advantage I can see in Engineers running the country is that when faced with a problem which they have no experience of, they will most likely admit that fact AND THEN GO AND LEARN ABOUT IT!

      As opposed to a politician, who will sit there and try and out-think the electorate to work out which sound-byte will get him on the side of the mob without upsetting anyone else in the corridors of power. They are self-serving by definition and I have no idea why people are ever surprised by this.

      Ah well.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remove all classic politicians...

        For a short time, I was a salesman at a GNC store (selling "nutritional supplements") and every time they pulled the mystery shopper on me, I got told I was doing it all wrong! Yet I had twice the sales, more spent by each customer, .... Hell, my customers would come into the store, find out I wasn't working and leave. Whatever. I wanted happy customers so, for instance, admitting my ignorance, looking it up with the customer, and following through on what did and did not work made sense to me. That I lasted five months was a miracle in itself.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: Remove all classic politicians...

          I know exactly what you mean. I did a stint as an account manager for an ISP that was in Chapter 11 at the time. We were all told to try and retain business from existing accounts.

          I ended up being the only one that managed to generate a further £500k in sales after brokering a deal with their most obstreperous client (he could smell bullshit a mile off, and I have a bullshit-detector detector).

          I flat out told him that the routers were the main source of the problems he was having in his network (Netblazers). The sales droid nearly pitched a fit when he found out that I had suggested he upgrade them all to Cisco, but quickly back-tracked when the customer decided to upgrade all his leased lines if the ISP paid for the routers. Turns out the customer had been holding off upgrading due to lack of confidence and their 'salesy' attitude.

          Unfortunately Engineers are just not power hungry enough to get to the top, and if they were they would probably lose the traits that would be of most value in the process. Whoever designed human nature needs to take a good long look in the mirror.

  16. ZSn

    Disingenuous apple

    Apple is not being strictly truthful. It *is* possible to intercept iMessage Matthews green has a good primer on it:

    However it is aa difficult going to do and, in my opinion, destroy apple's reputation.

  17. noj


    "If you create a product that allows evil monsters to communicate in this way, to behead children, to strike innocents – whether it's at a game in a stadium, in a small restaurant in Paris, take down an airline – that is a big problem.”

    Feinstein is missing a finer point. According to this article in the Intercept, much of what this terrorist group communicated was NOT encrypted. And since if it wasn't is this not an opportunity to point as mass surveillance and question its true worth? Feinstein: Why not at least get an argument that supports your conclusion.

    And hey, there are even people that can be blamed for causing events that led to the rise of ISIS:

    But as long as the media is more concerned with fanning flames than reporting the truth Feistein's comments will be debated as if they are fact. So a big thanks to the NYT for helping the Intercept tug at the emperor's clothes:

    BTW: I agree with the first comment about guns. More people have been killed with guns than with encryption but I don't see any politicians screaming bloody murder about that. No pun intended.

  18. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "encryption blocks justice"

    Which kind of justice exactly ?

    The kind that bursts through the door, trashes your appartment/house in search of weapons/drugs/illegal-substance-of-the-day then gives you a full cavity search to be sure they missed nothing, leaving empty-handed with nary an excuse for having violated your life, your body and your privacy under the pretense of "securing the Nation" ?

    Or the kind that gathers intel, checks it out, asks for warrant to place under surveillance, gathers direct observational data and, when all indications are you do actually have a bomb lab in your basement, then comes crashing into your life at 6 A.M. sharp to ruin your evil plans ?

    Once again encryption is being paraded as the tool terrorists use. Terrorists may indeed use it, but in Paris they did not. As a French national, I am particularly looking forward to the explanations of how these nutjobs got through on plaintext SMS. But in any case, I feel that we, as a society, must absolutely stop relying on computers to discover and gather information on suspects. SigInt has its limits, and they appear to be rather drastic.

    I would much rather have all entryways to major cities equipped with metal detectors able to sniff out weapons-grade metals and sending an automated alert and license plate pic to Police HQ(*). I think that would honestly be a lot more efficient because, however long the scum takes to plan, whatever the encryption they use (or don't, as the case may be), they still have to show up physically, all geared up, to accomplish their despicable mission.

    If you can catch them while they're still in their car, you can very much limit the damage they can do - contrary to the situation today where we have a few officers sifting through petabytes of useless data and not getting the intel they could actually use.

    Alert from the Porte d'Auteuil ? It's a black Seat with four bearded guys dressed in black ? Time for the rapid intervention RAID team. Start the roadblocks and we'll get them !

    * - of course, maybe a better alternative would be an automated 80cm-thick steel plate that pops up in front of said vehicle. Vehicle crashes into it, everyone inside seriously injured, cops and medical services just need to mop up. YMMV.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: "encryption blocks justice"

      I would much rather have all entryways to major cities equipped with metal detectors able to sniff out weapons-grade metals

      By weapons-grade I assume you mean metals strong enough to maintain their integrity in the face of repeated exposure to powerful explosions. Like those used in car engines, perhaps?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Hmm. Hadn't thought of that.

        Pff. Pesky Reality. Always in the way of a nice, easy solution !

  19. Kane Silver badge

    A "bunch" is the collective noun for Arseholes

    "If you create a product that allows evil monsters to communicate in this way, to behead children, to strike innocents – whether it's at a game in a stadium, in a small restaurant in Paris, take down an airline – that is a big problem.”

    List of Products used by Evil Monsters™ to enable communication:

    • Shoes - enables them to walk to other Evil Monsters™ to initiate verbal communication
    • Pens/Pencils and Paper - enables them to write down messages to pass on to other Evil Monsters™, after walking to them
    • Maps - enables them to find the location of other Evil Monsters™, so that they can walk to them and hand over their written messages
    • Rucksacks/Backpacks - enables them to carry all of the above items
    • Paper Money - enables them to buy all of the above items

    1. PsiAC

      Re: A "bunch" is the collective noun for Arseholes

      Air - enabling them to communicate through physical means and continue their ways while depriving others of the same right

      Trees - producing breathable air, thus empowering the Evil Monsters™ to continue their ways and avoid dropping dead

      Water - allowing the growth of the trees and similarly preventing the death of Evil Monsters™


      If you want to solve the problem, you should strike at the source. Eliminate all water, and the rest of the problems will solve themselves.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupidity is catching on it seems

    The arguments presented are just as cogent as the ones the UK parliment presented about postal regulations allowing every nosey worker at your local post office to demand to know whats in your package just on the off chance you are doing anything illegal, like you would really pack c4 into a parcel, go to post it & when asked whats in the parcel say 'yes this is a bomb i'm posting'

    <aside> I wonder if someone said that, what would/could the workers at your local post office do about it? Not much I suspect except call the police, but by that time mr terrorist will have had it away on his legs or wheels, leaving them not much to do really when it comes to apprehending mr terrorist</aside>

    But yet that appears to be exactly the kind of thinking that governments & politicians are following, it makes no sense at all

    besides in the postal case, it would appear to be largely unnecessary to ask, as post tends to get x-rayed etc these days to look for just such things

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to wake

    You'd think those in denial could figure out why it's important for authorities to share electronic communication data after the recent tragedies in France and elsewhere. Evidently common sense ain't so common any more. Maybe after another 500 or a 1,000 people die some of the clowns in denial will figure out that the is good reason for authorities to monitor electronic communications. For the really clueless it will take personal friends or family dying at the hands of terrorists before they wake up and smell the coffee.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Time to wake

      "For the really clueless it will take personal friends or family dying at the hands of terrorists before they wake up and smell the coffee."

      So what? In the week or so since the Paris attacks more folk have been killed and injured on the roads of Europe than in the attacks. Should we all give up our own privacy and security to stamp out cars the next bogeyman?

    2. PsiAC

      Re: Time to wake

      This is an emotional time, certainly. But these 'terrorists' are no more than murdering criminals.

      They deserve nothing more and nothing less.

      They aren't worth the destroyed freedoms.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Time to wake

        Dunno if you have been following this before writing your post, but think you need to be aware of a few things.

        1. Seems they did not use encryption during the attacks.

        2. They had already been marked as suspects before the attacks (I suspect thats why they are doing the roundups so well they already have lists of known aquatainces), which implies that the data gathering was already of an adequate level but the analysis was poor.

        None of which supports your position for increasing data gathering.

  22. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Big Brother

    It seems ...

    .... no encryption was used by the Paris terrorists, according to this. Just plain old SMS. This ant-encryption crap isn't about fighting terrorism. It's about governments keeping track of their own citizens' activities.

  23. Old Handle

    They don't get it, do they?

    They seem to understand that all this is a result of tech companies trying to win back the trust of their customers. Why then is it so hard to realize that the government should also be trying to win back the trust of their citizens? I have seen precious little effort made on that front. The mass phone surveillance program got scaled back to something slightly less objectionable, but even then they seemed to fight it every step of the way.

  24. Mummy's 'ickle soldier

    Convenient use of the 'state of emergency'

    What happened in Paris was tragic, but here we go again, more chipping away at our freedoms for the sake of 'security'. This attack will be used on two counts:

    1. By governments to justify and legitimise further undirected mass surveillance measures. Encryption is smeared as evil, despite indications that increasing hostility towards western business interests by foreign nationals is on the increase and that data security (at rest and in-transit) has never been more important. So what is more important, the protection of our economy and citizens data that if exposed, allows terrorists to target us, or banning encryption for the off-chance of stopping a terrorist attack (facilitated by the availability of unencrypted exploitable data) that has far more indications than a message body from extremist x to facilitator y?

    2. By those campaigning that we remain in the European Union, as to break away from Europe now in the face of international terrorism would be to put our lives at risk wouldn't it? Even though we managed this well enough before we joined the EU with bilateral agreements.

    Things that aren't getting airtime anymore as a result:

    The shower of b**tards that caused more unrest and ruination of people's lives than any terrorists to date during the banking crisis and why none of them will face investigation, much less prosecution.

    Our actions in Syria that seem to be ramping up without a clearly articulated plan let alone an achievable or defined positive end-state.

    Mine's the tin foil lined one.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Convenient use of the 'state of emergency'

      What Colin Powell (Army geral, Chairman Joint Chiefs, and National Security Asst. to the President) brought to the table qas having a defined military objective, a window of time to achieve that objective, and an exit strategy*. That became 'The Powell Doctrine.'

      Maybe it's just me, but it ain't looking like any of that is present over Iraq, Afghanistan, nor Syria.

      *= "Know when to get out of Dodge, Know How to get out of Dodge."-- Richard Herman in A Force of Eagles as I recall.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "encryption blocks justice"

    No, politicians block justice.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "encryption blocks justice"

      No, encryption enables freedom from state snooping.

      And therefore underpins democratic societies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "encryption blocks justice"

        Based upon rulings from this Supreme Court, and prior ones as well, anonymity is Basic to Free Speech. You know, letters to the editor anonymous at the very least expression of the right. These days, encryption is required necessity to enable anonymity online. One need only observe how skillfully the lower courts are avoiding ruling on this and the Constitutionality of mass surveillance. Almost Popcorn worthy.

  26. Andrew 99


    Those calling politicians stupid should re-evaluate. The longer serving more influential politicans saying stupid things really means they are attempting to pull the wool over your eyes. Thinking only that they are stupid means they succeeded.

    For whatever reason, governments want full unfettered access to every citizen's personal data. I dont want them to have it. End of. Using such a tragic event to call for access is psychopathic.

  27. Adam 1

    Perhaps they could lead by example? I'm sure Microsoft, Apple and Google between them can make sure that strong encryption isn't permitted to .gov sites from the browsers they make.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All flags are false to further the nefarious agendas of the powers that be. "Oh come all ye Stasi"...

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