back to article Don't be fooled, experts warn, America's anti-child-abuse EARN IT Act could burn encryption to the ground

On Thursday, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation with the ostensible purpose of combating child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online – at the apparent cost of encryption. The law bill is called the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, which folds up into the indignant …

  1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Fucking idiots.

    Why aren't they doing something useful, like making Coronavirus illegal?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Fucking idiots.

      Coronavirus isn't illegal as Trump hasn't thought of it.... yet.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: Fucking idiots.

        No "whoosh," Sherlock?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fucking idiots.

          The "whoosh" is on you, frumious!

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Fucking idiots.

        Coronavirus isn't illegal as Trump hasn't thought of it.... yet.

        I'd have thought he'd have been on the phone, trying to convince it to infect Bernie or other 'political rivals'

        1. Montreal Sean

          Re: Fucking idiots.

          @Teiwaz

          He's been too busy chastising the border patrol for letting this Mexican virus through the wall so good Americans can buy it in six packs...

      3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Fucking idiots.

        Coronavirus isn't illegal as Trump hasn't thought of it.... yet.

        Sure it is-

        TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 113B > § 2332a

        (a) Offense Against a National of the United States or Within the United States.— A person who, without lawful authority, uses, threatens, or attempts or conspires to use, a weapon of mass destruction

        (2) against any person or property within the United States, and

        (C) any perpetrator travels in or causes another to travel in interstate or foreign commerce in furtherance of the offense;

        shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, and if death results, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

        (c) Definitions.— For purposes of this section

        (C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title);

        Soo.. Self-isolate, or else! Do not breach quarantine, or else! Guessing there may be some other legislation knocking about given communicable diseases have always been a thing to control even before Mary got re-designated a WMD.

        1. MrDamage

          Re: Fucking idiots.

          So, according to this, it's only illegal if you know you have it.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Fucking idiots.

            So, according to this, it's only illegal if you know you have it.

            Dunno, but could probably apply it if someone broke quarantine. But WMD legislation would probably be overkill & I suspect there's other existing public health related legislation, given notifiable diseases have been around for a long while.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Fucking idiots.

      If you live in the US, you can have your opposition to this bill sent to your State Senator & your Congress person via the EFF at

      https://act.eff.org/action/protect-our-speech-and-security-online-reject-the-graham-blumenthal-proposal

      1. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

        Re: idiots.

        While going through the EFF isn't a bad option, it isn't nearly as effective as calling your senator and/or representative directly.

        Better yet, make an appointment to see them in person.

        By the way, unlike some countries like the Netherlands, in the US (and the UK, I think) contacting your representatives/senators directly is part of the representative process.

        1. Grooke

          Re: idiots.

          Excellent tips for doing so:

          https://www.lawsandsausagescomic.com/comic/402

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Fucking idiots.

      making coronavirus illegal. Hell, THAT will stop its spread!

      (same logic applies to everything else that "pass a law making it illegal" would do to 'the thing' the politicians happen to be BLEATING about at the moment... from GUNS to ENCRYPTION TECHNOLOGY to "content they don't *FEEL* you should look at")

      NOTE: by me, *FEEL* is always used as a PEJORATIVE.. stupid "feelies" need to STOP trying to run OUR lives!

      Oh, and it's always "for the children": (see icon)

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Fucking idiots.

        Bob - I do have some sympathy with you, being well on the autistic spectrum too, but I've learned to re-read the more ludicrous posts on these threads. There are a lot of clever people who use sarcasm to make very valid points - the original post is one of the less subtle efforts.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    When it comes to the Internet, at least there's a few voice of reason.

    Wiyden leads the way again against the data sucking TLA's.

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Re: When it comes to the Internet, at least there's a few voice of reason.

      if this bill was trying to do what it says it is the senior senator from Oregon would be the first to support it.

  3. HildyJ Silver badge
    Alert

    No rest for the wicked

    Face it, the government (ours, yours, everybody's) will not rest until they have unfettered access to everything everybody does online.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No rest for the wicked

      Or...

      Governments have had almost unrestricted access to public communications systems since the end of WW2 and it's only really the last 10-15 years that the explosion of technology has allowed individuals or groups to take back some control, largely through the work of IT companies making encryption processors almost universal and software companies striving to improve encryption.

      Acknowledging how hard the fight was to reach this position is part of the battle

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: No rest for the wicked

        In the past a warrant from a judge was required to tap a phone in the UK. That protection has been jettisoned. Are you too young to remember or just ill informed?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No rest for the wicked

          "In the past a warrant from a judge was required to tap a phone in the UK. That protection has been jettisoned. Are you too young to remember or just ill informed?"

          Ahh....the naive approach...

          You are correct - legally, the UK intelligence services and law enforcement required a warrant.

          Unfortunately, Five Eyes provided access to all international communications. The US tapped the lines and passed the information onto the UK. All legit and above board right? And if some domestic traffic accidentally got routed through a Five Eyes point? Whoops...the silly engineer made a mistake.

        2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: No rest for the wicked

          There was a big difference though, in the early days (probably up to the 70s) it was financially infeasible to tap everyone's communications so the spooks had to be selective (i.e. thousands of target, not billions) in what they looked for and recorded, and at that point a judge's warrant was perfectly in keeping with doing so.

          Today the technology to hoover up all information and cross-reference it in a database, along with voice-to-text conversion, means the only practical thing standing between governments (and large corporations) and their desire for a panopticon on the population is end-to-end (i.e. per device) encryption.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No rest for the wicked

            Check the scale they needed to operate on up until the 1980's - there were around 2000 international lines and all calls were connected via an operator. For telex, you passed the message to an operator. Data lines were rare so monitoring did not present a challenge.

            In the 1970's, you moved to automatic exchanges that allowed direct International dialling - again, there were methods to record or listen in on calls by sending audio streams to multiple locations although I'm not 100% sure when in the 1970's this was first made available (i.e. immediately or whether humans were still involved initially).

            All of this is separate to legal phone taps.

            1. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Re: No rest for the wicked

              Have a look at Echelon https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/03/gchq_duncan_campbell/

              1. JimboSmith Silver badge

                Re: No rest for the wicked

                BT and the Post Office have run cables into Menwith Hill for years. Back in the late 90's BT had got cables running into Menwith Hill carrying 100,000 telephone calls concurrently.You wouldn't expect them to admit to this (in the late 90's) and send evidence and their then head of emergency planning (as a witness) to court and admit this. The case was an appeal by two convicted female trespassers into the American Spy base. BT had to send another solicitor to withdraw evidence submitted and shut up their own witness. That fiasco earned a rebuke for the company and the witness from the judge who said:

                "If I had a burglar alarm system, I would now think twice about having it operated by BT"

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: No rest for the wicked

      @HildyJ: The question rarely asked is why they want all this information. We have our ideas about it, but how do the people behind the slurping justify it to themselves? I find it difficult to conceive of all of them as being acting in bad faith, so why do they think narcopaedoterrorists are such a threat to society that everyone needs surveilling?

      1. MrDamage

        Re: No rest for the wicked

        It means they can simultaneously bang the "law and order" drum, while gutting funding the fleshy things that do the actual policing.

        The same way they cut down on beat cops, then install cameras everywhere "for our protection".

    3. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: No rest for the wicked

      @HildyJ

      "Face it, the government (ours, yours, everybody's) will not rest until they have unfettered access to everything everybody does online."

      Plenty of us knew this early on. Government attracts those who want increased control over us, and unfortunately some people believe government works to look after them. Every time they are allowed an inch someone comes along and takes a mile. They cant help it that is what the design of government attracts.

      So when they come along saying they will only do this or only take that or only at/from them we should know better.

  4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    *shudders*

    I really wish that politicians would just stop *thinking of the children*.

    It makes me gag at the thought that a politician thinks more about my children than I do.

    I mean Saville thought of the children and look how that turned out....

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: *shudders*

      Things like this, "Think of the children!", Perfectly Panders to the Phoney Proselytizing Praying Protectors of Personal Purity. The conservative pseudo-protectors get whatever they want by applying a phoney wrapper of pre-pubescent concern over any of their pet projects, and the peons of the programmed population accept the proposals with pronounced pleasantries.

      Prognosis? A singular portion of our population repressing the balance of the pissed-on, and pissed-off, public.

      I recommend a purge.

      1. Lomax
        Holmes

        Re: *shudders*

        > Perfectly Panders to the Phoney Proselytizing Praying Protectors of Personal Purity.

        You are A Man from Mars, and I claim my five pounds.

      2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: *shudders*

        I "prescribe" a purge ITYM.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: *shudders*

          >I "prescribe" a purge ITYM.

          This is the US not the USSR, so suspect a witch hunt would be more readily taken.

      3. MrDamage

        Re: *shudders*

        > Perfectly Panders to the Phoney Proselytizing Praying Protectors of Personal Purity.

        (bad falseto) All right. Don't practice your alliteration on me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *shudders*

      When I read about the bill I thought "I can guess who's behind that" and I was right.

      This is a "Usual suspects" effort.

    3. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: *shudders*

      It also leads to paediatricians having to leave their homes after illiterate mobs descend on them.

      I was also reading how two sets of vulnerable people on a Bristol estate bulled by their neighbours were subject to false accusations of paedophilia as a weapon against them. 'I'll tell the police yer a paedo' is the threat de jour.

      As a private science tutor who has been CRB'ed I live in fear of that one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: *shudders*

        "I was also reading how two sets of vulnerable people on a Bristol estate bulled by their neighbours were subject to false accusations of paedophilia as a weapon against them. "

        It was worse than bullying. An innocent man was murdered by neighbours - while the rest of the local community apparently approved. The police were also complicit in his being targeted rather than protected.

  5. The Central Scrutinizer

    Like I've said before, the stupid truck just keeps rolling down moron street. Oh yeah, I want me some of that back doored encryption. Pen and paper is fast becoming an attractive option.

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    I don't have a problem with this

    If I wanted to transmit anything secret then I'd do it in plain text encoding - banning encryption will not solve the problem. So what's the problem? It's us - society that creates conditions and environments where people think that all kinds of abuse are justified in one way or another. Child abuse is wrong - but we're all OK with a society that thinks that "austerity" has no side effects and that rich people will always be good people. Nobody ever discusses what is "good" anymore, we're only told that some things are bad ... if you get caught.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I don't have a problem with this

      What makes you think plain text encoding won't get flagged by this either? Even steganography will have limits, and they may just accept a high false positive rate to stop a problem they can't stop otherwise (not mentioned is that the Internet is providing cover for CSAM by allowing them to operate under the protection of hostile sovereignty--no amount of manpower will help if the local authorities won't cooperate).

      1. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: I don't have a problem with this

        And those false positives will cost you at least your job, and maybe your life.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: I don't have a problem with this

          Unless it costs politicians THEIR lives, they'll just accept it as collateral damage (and a way to delay the overpopulation problem no one wants to discuss).

    2. jonathan keith Silver badge

      Re: I don't have a problem with this

      Tell me again that you don't have a problem with it once your bank account has been emptied after their now-insecure systems are penetrated by (well-funded, organised) criminals. Or when your medical records are dumped online and - entirely coincidentally - your insurance premiums triple overnight.

      Breaking end-to-end encryption is not a cure for society's ills. (Proper) Education is the cure for society's ills, but the problem there is that it's a) very expensive and b) encourages critical thinking, which is the last thing that a government wants.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't have a problem with this

        I think it was a rhetorical statement. Like saying we don't have a problem being vegetarian is some magical bacon tree existed. Super high bar, that obviously is not yet met. OP is happy to carry on living life as normal, watching the world fall apart around them, in hope they learn it was a silly mistake. Still, it's lose lose either way. We wish to do something to help, but sadly often those trying to help may make problems in other areas.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: I don't have a problem with this

      If this by some freak of nature gets passed then I predict that there will be a huge increase in the transmission of large amounts of text such as the complete works of Shakespear. You could hide just about any secret message inside that stream of text and it will be invisible to the plethora of US TLA's (and a few ORGS outside the US) unless the key is given away by one of the parties.

      Of course these congress critters fail to understand that everyone of their bits of communication (legal or not) will be fair game. No more VPN's. No more spending money online with the likes of Amazon.

      All sorts of things we do need encryption.

      To our US Readers.

      If you get the chance next november, drain the swamp of Trump and Critters like this.

      1. quxinot Silver badge

        Re: I don't have a problem with this

        To be completely honest....

        Drain the swamp. So don't elect a crook or a moron.

        Who's that leave? I don't see anyone in the running at all.... at best, they're all politicians, so a mixture of both. Some more egregious than others, to be fair, but there is no 'good' choice.

        1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: I don't have a problem with this

          Not having a good alternative is not sufficient excuse to keep the thing you have.

          At least you will get a new set of national dysfunctions, and be an international laughingstock for different reasons...

          Who knows, eventually someone sane, competent and honest might make it through the system, just got to get the turnover high enough.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I don't have a problem with this

            The sane one will cause the next civil war, while USA is busy sorting its gun problem out by letting the gun owners kill them selves Canada and Mexico meet in the middle and california and texas become there own countries, par for the course when your dealing with a country founded by religious extremists which has grown into a bulshy teenager badly in need of a father figure and cutting down to size

      2. aks Bronze badge

        Re: I don't have a problem with this

        Didn't you read the article? This is a bi-partisan move, not down to Trump, Obama, Clinton, etc.

      3. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: I don't have a problem with this

        This coming November, the contest is gonna be :

        Trump v Biden or Sanders.

        What a f*cking damp squib shit show that's gonna be.

        At least last time around we got to see Clinton throw a few wobblies.

        1. NiceCuppaTea
          Joke

          Re: I don't have a problem with this

          I think you mean damp squid, everyone knows its damp squid.

    4. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

      Re: I don't have a problem with this

      Permit me to get philosophical for a moment.

      Broadly speaking, conservatives hold that people do bad things because people have an innate bent to evil. It is the individual's responsibility to fight that urge - or else. Conservatives also tend to lean to accepting an objective moral standard.

      Progressives, on the other hand, tend to reason from the concept of the "tabula rasa" - each person comes into the world untarnished but does "bad things" due to their surroundings, their upbringing, and their circumstances. Morality has been replaced by values, which are agreed upon more or less democratically.

      This presents a major societal challenge, as concepts like theft, murder, and abuse are defined by consensus rather than presented by a higher authority.

      The consequences of this shift cannot be overstated. For instance, it leads to victimization of the perpetrator and exceedingly lenient court verdicts for reasons like "the victim didn't fully comprehend the severity because of mental retardation" or "publishing the name of the perpetrator tarnished his good name and reputation".

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I don't have a problem with this

        It also means forgiving those who simply didn't know better and allowing for a second chance...within reason. Thus aversion to permanent punishments. By your reasoning, true conservatives believe bad people will always be bad people and can never be reformed and should just be taken back and shot.

  7. albaleo

    as AG Barr announced

    That company keeps getting weirder.

    https://www.agbarr.co.uk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOGIQVlIduw

    1. Juan Inamillion

      Ian Bru

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOGIQVlIduw

      Thanks for the Irn Bru adverts video, absolutely made my day!

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Six endorsements

    From companies that only support encryption in as much as they can sell it.

    If, however, it is preventing them from using much of your data as a product, then this legislation helps them to open up your data at the same time as appearing to think of the children.

    Social media in general is a gift to government for surveiling the population and encrypting it is obviously making it harder to pry into our lives so the last thing anyone with any connection to social media wants is to be held responsible in any meaningfully expensive manner while aslo being denied access to their product.

    This legislation is a win win for the six.

    Untill it all goes titsup.

  9. EricM

    Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

    Stopping E2E encryption of Whatsapp and Apple - Then what? Criminals/child predators moving to other services, of course. So what will be the next steps?

    Will Telcos be forced to provide crackable in-transit encryption (like a backdoored https) in order to "earn" or keep their exemptions?

    Will Hosting providers be forced to only provide crackable at-rest encryption in order to earn or keep their exemptions?

    As the "law" would just authorize basically *anything* a comission comes up with, this could become a very slippery slope...

    Math laws cannot be selectively enforced for citizens and waived for police. Every encryption that becomes crackable/backdoored for police will also become crackable for criminals.

    So software and services of US origin will become insecure in a very basic sense of the word.

    As a consequence, once this really becomes law, we will probably see the downfall of the great US software empire, as only the EU and Asia will be able to construct secure products.

    1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

      The obvious next step, if I were a politician with little technical knowledge? I would mandate that all digital cameras including mobile phones use software to identify child sex abuse material at point of creation and alert the authorities.

      How is that achieved? Don't ask me, I'm just a politician. Apple and Google have really smart engineers, I'm sure they can figure out how to make it work.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

      ...until they get infiltrated, that is (Crypto AG, anyone?). The ultimate goal is the outlawing of any unsanctioned encryption everywhere, by hook or crook. Big Brother, IOW. And they'll point at other, worse countries (like Chiba) to ask if you want that instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

        Voluntary book burning is fine. Sometimes we need toilet paper. Voluntary unencrypted communication is fine.

        However, forcing book burnings, and forcing communication? I wonder where this goes.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

          Like I said, like they care. I think it's reached the point where they're willing to go MAD. Either submit to them or watch the world as you know it crumble before you (the people in power don't care anymore--they have enough of everything that they can weather it out and then just pick up the fallout later).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

          "Voluntary book burning is fine. "

          You do not need to force anyone to burn books or any other form of destructive behaviour. You just set up an environment where such things are portrayed as justified. The mob mind will then do the job quite happily - or at least so they can individually claim to be "part of the solution rather than part of the problem".

          History is full of examples that should throw light on some of the current trends in society.

    3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

      @EricM

      As usual the politicos haven't thought this one through, if they weaken encryption it will get broken, and quickly, and then all of those WiFi web cams people have for home security will actually become a liability. We've already had snooping scare stories that WiFi cams have been hacked (https://www.silicon.co.uk/networks/m2m/hacked-ring-camera-323651), it's only going to get worse, so, will nobody actually think of the children?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Problem: Math does not know if you are crook or cop.

        No...unless it's the politicians' children. We're reaching the point they're getting ready to close the walled gardens and leave us to the wolves...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lest we not forget 4/2/2004,

    https://www.wired.com/2004/02/pentagon-kills-lifelog-project/

    Do you know what was launched on that very same day?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Facebook

    Lifelog has been the plan all along, encryption gets in the way of that and they will do anything in their power and use any excuse to remove it.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Now that's damn interesting.

  11. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Load Well The Stun Bolts, Master-Gunner...

    See also the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, aka the USA PATRIOT Act.

    They ought to be put down.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up next.....it will be a criminal offence to create, own or operate a private cipher scheme......

    ....in the mean time the NSA and GCHQ can just suck it up!

    *

    05711ROp0lql14CE1bgu1GT50=4B12K60Pt01daz

    1I7P02R11O7S1Ns71Wbp16KW126R0sw410cA179s

    1Jv51KSD0Bf10ppm1m9L05bW1H781YrJ1BGE0s2V

    083=1Xq40JmY0gyQ1l0408xW0cTd0qzL14h90ufo

    0D3$0lhZ0MFR1W4D0u5M0LK=1Pv10kwk0D5A0FRW

    1TlI0No41fnY0fZj06gw1Ne00j5E0ssp0qIg1Luy

    1ULJ1huT0dws07721mqP0u520Gp81OVs1ego0vQg

    0d1w0eI31aGQ0MF40t9A0me701DL1VTy0UPp10SS

    0xVw0jmb1CNw1lJI0xmM13fy0JNp1Q9e0Jnr00zL

    0gbi1WSP0u5o0qyT0x7W06Py01ss0uxf0M=U1Hef

    1hNM1Tk91Xf40j7h0n9m1T2c093q0FWX0yOz0f9u

    0swZ1hHq0C8x1jES0bzy0M3t02Lw1leh1ao105zv

    0sMG1LTi0tB904IA1VRf00Iv1ih00afE04zV1CU=

    0JHm15UA0het0SwU04yV1TKm15Nf04YW1WNd1fai

    1BaS02rL001Q19mw0Dz016a01ELh1fHl0yqM0Dhj

    1eXA0ZoO10lx1Ikr0eda1MOl0D8x1gaV1kwP1C04

    13VJ0zku1aeu15Go0oGh0mjK0nBm0xuT080K0x11

    0gsP1IjV1Gt91WYo1fW30jHk145J0rlX1Jnl0h$o

    1F000pBH0CJ=0=Yd1Y1u0AGI1ktz1D5j0jOh1LVX

    0Oxk06DI1OmD1Kw=12Nh1O9z12yD1h9U17qp1hLV

    067o0m741mYB0mNH1MdL0vXD1W3u1TwK0Xm70lLt

    0dGE0BG01UYI0Ax80vNZ06$S0LSA0HSU1Aqj1lXR

    01zi007f1Ihy0i=i1Q8=0HFN0F4b0OVG10Nm0WAB

    0OKh0z=y0iR81CHe17Up12a=08Wd1fPh

    *

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it will be a criminal offence to create, own or operate a private cipher scheme......

      Then we just catch you and present the wrench or pipe. And pissibly your mum or child. What then?

  13. dca1

    Policing either needs to adapt to modern day constraints or modern day constrains need to be neutered to allow prior day policing to keep up. The solution proposed here is the latter answser. The only way to solve with the former is to throw NSA style funding and recruiting at regular police work.

    In the olden days if you wanted to find out what a group of criminals were up to you tapped their analog phones, bugged their houses when they were out, mayble rilfled through documents in drawers or you just sat at a table near them in a restaraunt. These things were easy because the only policing skills required were to have working ears and short term memory, you were up against criminals who had more or less the same skillset.

    Current day policing is up against the skillset of the criminals and the skillset of those who make the tools that they use, so Police are up against criminal enterprise and also legitimate enterprise - as those legitimate enterprises now provide the tools which they use (yes, I know they don't specifically make them for this purpose).

    Unless regular everyday policing budgets allow for them to employ staff who can intercept traffic OTA, who can MITM a 4G network or who can remotely read and decrypt device contents then the balance of skills has moved greatly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @dca1

      Quote: "....who can intercept traffic OTA, who can MITM a 4G network or who can remotely read and decrypt device contents...."

      *

      You are forgetting one important point: for every "group of criminals" in the world, there are MILLIONS of perfectly ordinary citizens who DON'T WANT THE POLICE, THE NSA, GCHQ, OR MI5 snooping on their perfectly ordinary and perfectly legitimate activities.

      *

      Please explain to me how the rights of ordinary people will be preserved while some spook is reading their "device contents".

      1. Brian Morrison

        They won't be preserved, it's simpler to make everything anyone does potentially criminal and hence subject to whatever searches whether warrantless or warranted.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          *hears phone ringing in background and answers it*

          Who? Oh, very well. One moment, please.

          *returns to screen* A Mr. Orwell would like to have a chat with you about your doubleplus ungood doublethink and your thoughtcrime.

    2. chuBb. Bronze badge

      Even if the plod did that wouldn't help much will always be a n+1 situation where demand/content outstrips resources

      A better solution to my mind would be to mandate at the international level content moderation with rules and standards not implemented by the orgs at fault but by the UN or similar org. I can't imagine any country not signing up for fear of being labeled pro paedo, even trump would probably be convinced to sign, unless vlad feels like punking him for the lolz. The tech companies fund this with 10% of profits (which would already make it better funded than the WHO) and if they don't like it, they will like the public reaction to there enablement and lack of thinking of the children less. As self regulation is just lip service and neutered to point of nonsense to guard profits. Finally by making it international you have the means to sanction countries who don't cooperate with take downs or lack the capabilities or resources to do so, worst case scenario is you end up with techies in blue helmets, booting down data centre doors and unplugging the wrong router, in theory free of local corruption.

      It's far from a perfect solution but seems better than backdoors and politicians who fail to understand what ever laws they pass does nothing as the content is inveribly out of reach in some country with bigger social problems of their own than other countries paedos

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "[...] with rules and standards not implemented by the orgs at fault but by the UN or similar org"

        Unfortunately the representatives of those UN organisations are appointed by politicians - with political ends in sight. Hence Saudi Arabia being appointed to head a key UN Human Rights panel.

      2. Schultz Silver badge

        UN mandating content moderation with rules and standards...

        is the only way to make sure the US will oppose any restrictions on their, now patriotic, freedoms!

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: UN mandating content moderation with rules and standards...

          And what about China, who singlehandedly has the manpower, tech savvy, and military might to respond, "F-U!"

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        I think the sort of content that is always trotted out as an example of what we are trying to eliminate is already illegal in every jurisdiction, so presumably we already *have* a worldwide content moderation regime of the kind you describe.

        The trouble is, social media as currently implemented makes it fairly easy for criminals to operate more or less anonymously. This bill attempts to eliminate that anonymity by saying to websites "If you can't give us a better lead as to who published this, then you published it.". That will be a pretty easy idea to sell to the vast majority of voters, so if this bill is technically flawed you had better come up with a better idea, or a better implementation of this idea.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    *Always* Think of the children

    The data fetishists all purpose reason for eliminating your privacy.

    If there really are this many nonces around you'd think every other kiddie in the playground would have a story to tell.

    And yet they don't.

    This is because a) They think every adult is a nonce b) It's BS designed to get people to stop thinking critically about their own human rights and how they are being sold out.

    Which option do you think is more likely?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: *Always* Think of the children

      And what of those who actually DO get taken by creeps and end up UNABLE to tell their stories?

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: *Always* Think of the children

        It's called "life". There is no way to prevent [insert harm du jour here] in its entirety, so the question revolves around where the limits are, and how they should be policed. Personally, I think that the limits in the Western world are about right (and I have strong links with Rotherham) - what is needed is proper numbers of *well-trained* police both out on the streets and playing with computers.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: *Always* Think of the children

          It's also called lawsuits and bad publicity. Kidnapped and murdered children are considered a failure of civilized society, full stop. Laws have been created over such cases (like the Amber Alert law). So no, it's a political non-starter, so you MUST find a solution to avoid the bad press. If that's not possible, then it'll reach the point that civilization is declared a failure. THEN the fireworks will begin.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: *Always* Think of the children

      They think every adult is a nonce

      That can't be right. These are people use try to use each adult as many times as possible.

  15. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    It's simple, just refuse to route any packets with the 'evil' bit set.

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    A last gasp.....

    Typically the invoking of "will someone think of the children" is the last resort when reason has been exhaused. This sort of legislation won't stop anything like that but it will open a Pandora's box of tools and laws that the security services can use to go fishing with.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Big Brother

      l"open a Pandora's box of tools and laws that the security services can use to go fishing with"

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

      You appear to be ignorant of 2 facts.

      This is an American law.

      They already have THE PATRIOT Act.

      This is just gravy on top.

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Unfortunately the pros and cons of encryption only get debated by proxy via this cat and mouse game of the usual suspects introducing such bills.

    As the US is so keen on its written constitution and amendments perhaps its time they debated it explicitly by deciding what rights their citizens should have to privacy and security of communication.

  18. VibhorTyagi

    US Senate can engineer AI to manage this scourge

    With the abundance of tech heads at their disposal, USA could have easily set in place some well guided encryption walls that engineer AI to pick up noticeable, and suspicious activity, which leads to violations of the law. But the senate has managed to pick us all for our discretion, and managed to make sites like Facebook, even more privy, than they originally were. They could've easily employed some well tested bots, and engineer AI to be proficient in tackling this despicable crime.

    ~Engineer.AI

    1. J. Cook Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: US Senate can engineer AI to manage this scourge

      You assume that the machine learning system in place will be well trained; that's a very expensive process, and to date, NO ONE HAS GOTTEN IT RIGHT.

  19. Augie
    Gimp

    Think of the children.....FFS AGAIN!

    Yanno, I'd be a fucksight more respectful about politicians if they were just honest and told people what it was really about. Instead of thin BS.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No amount of broken encryption

    will stop the really really nasty guys posting pictures old-stylee through the mail. Which, by the way, needs orders of magnitude more resources to actually investigate than just watching digital data whizzing around the internet.

    In fact, if there is an underground network of sick people just snapping, developing at home, and posting on, they would be almost undetectable.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: No amount of broken encryption

      You sure you can trust the Post Office, though? They have a history...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No amount of broken encryption

        " They have a history..."

        The British Royal Mail was created specifically as a postal monopoly - so that all mail had to go through a central clearing office. There it could be opened, copied, and resealed. The Royal Mail archives still contain some of those transcripts from about 300 years ago.

  21. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Sheep farming in the boondocks just got a whole lot more attractiver (without a lot of tech) than remaining in the cities with lots of tech etc....

  22. Mahhn

    Profit time

    Cattle do not have rights and their opinions are not of consequence.

    'the Five Eyes Human Farmers alliance – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – have agreed to a set of principles to guide internet companies in their efforts to Harvest Consumers Data. Representatives for six online companies – Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Roblox, Snap and Twitter – were there to endorse the initiative.'

  23. KroSha

    "Since there are no 'best practices' in existence, and the techniques for doing this while preserving privacy are completely unknown impossible, the bill creates a government-appointed committee that will tell technology providers what technology they have to use break."

    FTFY

  24. MrDamage

    Don't fight it.

    Maliciously comply every step of the way.

    1. Excise all references to the Talmud, Bible and Quaran from their platforms due to their outdated beliefs on child rape and abuse.

    2. Remove all pics, and even references of children from their platforms, you know, just to 100% comply with the law, just in case.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Don't fight it.

      Doesn't #1 run afoul of the 1st Amendment and #2 run afoul of child actors/actresses (not to mention adults easily confused for children and vice versa)?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't fight it.

        "[...] not to mention adults easily confused for children and vice versa)"

        In the UK: pictures of adults whose appearance could be considered under-18 - are subject to the same law as pictures of actual children. A judge refused a club a licence renewal because they used St Trinian's style pictures of women to advertise some of their costume themed nights.

        A man was convicted under that law for viewing a gay pr0n web site - even though the site carried a USA standard declaration that all the performers were certified as over 18. Another police force suggested that the absence of pubic hair made the offence automatic.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Don't fight it.

          So I'm assuming adult performers with some kind of growth retardation defect are a nonstarter over there?

  25. karlkarl Silver badge

    I am all for the protection of kids. So we should compare the EARN IT act before and after statistics of child abuse.

    If the stats are the same, then EARN IT should be retracted and not explored again as a possibility. This means that they can stop wasting time and focus on another strategy that may be more successful.

    The problem is obvious; the people behind the act don't give a sh*t about kids and just want control.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020