Quote of the day—Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green)

If the US government dictating iPhone encryption design sounds ok to you, ask yourself how you’ll feel when China demands the same.

Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green)
Tweeted on February 17, 2016
[H/T to Tyler Durden.

Of course, as I posted before, Lyndon Johnson once said:

You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.

The problem being that it is difficult for many people to see the “unintended consequences” in foresight. If there is the possibility of a good outcome they will focus on that. In a lot of ways it’s like gun control. “People might be safer if guns are banned because the bad guys won’t have guns to commit crimes with.” Overlooking that the good guys won’t have guns to defend against the bad guys with.

The gun control analogy is an even a better fit when you remember that at one time the U.S. government insisted encryption was a “munition” and was mostly banned from export. It would seem to me that if the Second Amendment were well respected by Congress and the courts then a good lawyer could make the case government resistant encryption is protected by the Second Amendment as much or more so than it is by the First Amendment.—Joe]

12 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green)

  1. May as well repeal the fourth amendment, allowing unlimited search and seizure of anyone’s homes, papers and effects, because terrorism. Why not? If it could save the life of just one child, any and all violations of human rights should be not only allowable, but laudable, so long as your corrupt government does it in the name of combating terror. That the government at that point becomes the primary terrorist organization should be of no concern.

    We can’t deport known Islamists, or place any form of limitations on immigration because that would be rude, unrealistic and anti-American, but we MUST search everyone’s personal data without the need for warrants.

    This goes along with the Progressive (gradual, incremental communist revolutionary) meme; All peoples and cultures have something wonderfully valuable to offer Mankind, except Americans, and all nations have the sovereign right to establish and enforce their own border and immigration policies, except for Western nations, which have plundered the world and therefore have given up any such right. All peoples of the world have the right to live in the U.S. and other Western nations, but Americans have no right to go anywhere or do anything outside of the U.S., for that would be “Imperialism” and we all know that Imperialism is bad unless it’s practiced by jihadists, Fascists and communists in which case it is to be seen as Social Justice.

    As I’ve been saying for some time now; jihadists are not the concern here. They are not considered the enemy. Our government can make deals with them. You and I and the U.S. constitution (we extremists) are the enemies.

  2. It’s not just Progressives, or rather, it’s not just Progressives who happen to wear the Democrat label. The other day, there was an editorial discussion about the mens rea requirement proposed for Federal criminal laws. Sen. Grassley wrote in opposition that notion. As far as I could tell, his argument amounted to “this will make it harder to convict people”. Duh. Well, yes, that’s exactly the purpose.
    I guess he prefers the Queen of Hearts approach.

  3. What I don’t understand is why the government seems to think it needs access to that phone. The people pulling the triggers are dead. We aren’t going to court trying to prove someone did something. This is an intelligence question, not a law question.

    • It’s not about what’s on the phone; it’s a work phone, and it’s hard to imagine what useful information he would have on it rather than his personal phone. Further, at this point, months later, any information is largely useless.

      This is about setting a precedent. And they’ve found a case with good facts to seek that precedent – after all, he killed all those people; who could object?

      The precedent isn’t even fully set, and it’s already being applied elsewhere. NYTimes, 2/23/16, “Apple Faces U.S. Demand to Unlock 9 More iPhones.”

      It’s not about the information on the phone, folks. It’s about backdooring encryption.

      • The feds keep trying. And they keep failing. Remember the Clipper chip? This is the same thing. There have been a whole bunch of speeches and op-ed articles in the past year or two about the evils of crypto and “we need more laws”.
        The utter dishonesty involved is appalling. The feds involved know perfectly well that anyone who wants to can spend a few hours to create his own crypto; if Apple puts a back door in to break their software, that doesn’t affect apps that have their own.
        The situation is even funnier with Google. Android is open source. The notion of pushing Google to put a back door in is just utter stupidity, because everyone could see it, and every phone maker could just remove it before building the binaries. Or, more likely, phone makers could put in their own, with or without Google having any involvement. Is your phone made by a Chinese company? Do you want to bet on it having a Chinese spook back door? Or a Korean one? Or a Japanese one?

  4. A surprise this evening: Bret Baier interviewed ret. General Michael Hayden, former head of both CIA and NSA, and asked him about this Apple fight. He said (approximately): in the past the FBI has asked for a blanket back door, and on that I stand with Apple. But here it just the one phone, and Apple has not made the case that it sets a precedent.
    I think he went on to say that if Apple did make that case (that it would be a precedent) then he would agree with Apple. I don’t remember the details. There may be a clip on Youtube, worth looking.
    Given his NSA background I was rather amazed that he would be so supportive of private encryption.

    • If they do it once, it sets a precedent. He was only making it “sound” like he was supportive of private encryption. The gubmint will get its’ back door, or they’ll jail Apple execs to make an example of them.

      • I think he was sincere. Remember that he’s a private citizen now. I do admit that I was surprised.
        It sounds like Apple is busy fixing things in future products so they won’t be able to create a back door any longer — meaning they will be able to answer such orders in the future with “it’s not possible” rather than the current much weaker answer of “we don’t want to”.
        Apple is in the unfortunate situation that they are the only smartphone maker that’s based in the USA. All their competitors are not vulnerable to this kind of pressure since they are based outside the USA. That is, they aren’t vulnerable to US pressure; Chinese or whatever other country pressure may be a different matter. This is why a Swiss-based manufacturer is appealing.

        • Conceivably the U.S. could pass a law requiring any phone brought into the country have an encryption backdoor. I think this will be a tough law to get through congress but it’s something to watch out for.

          While the number of phones is in the noise Nokia (Microsoft) makes phone in Finland but is a U.S. company. Any idea how legal pressure in this situation differs from Apple?

          • Is the Nokia/MS phone still made? I thought it had gone away. Presumably that could become an issue if any alleged bad guy is ever found with such a phone. My guess is they would roll over, at least if Bill Gates’s support for the FBI position is any indication.
            On requiring a backdoor: the feds have pushed for that for ages. One wonders if they are as ignorant as they seem to be, or if the are instead utterly dishonest. The point is that a manufacturer back door would do absolutely nothing in dealing with apps that provide encryption. Not unless the OS back door stores every bit of user interaction to/from the apps it runs, which doesn’t seem feasible.
            The other day the WSJ had an article about DoD funded privacy/encryption tools. One mentioned was a secure chat (or email?) application that has become very popular. The other mentioned is Tor, the anonymous “onion mode” browser.

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