October 20, 2014
(TheAntiMedia) WASHINGTON, D.C.- In a talk late last week at the Brookings Institute, FBI Director James Comey lamented the recent announcements of Apple and Android that they would be encrypting user data. Though the FBI has been vocal about its objections to this, Comey took it a step further in his speech.
He said that companies should be,
“developing [law enforcement] intercept solutions during the design phase,”
suggesting that private companies should tailor products to government surveillance desires.
He also suggested that,
“Congress might have to force this on companies…Maybe they’ll take the hint and do it themselves.”
One way or another, the director assumes his agency will get what it wants. The FBI has already thoroughly accessed user data through data mining NSA collections. Though it submitted 1,800 requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court last year alone, the FBI wants more, and wants it legislated by the federal government.
In addition to believing it is acceptable for the FBI to pry data using the force of government decree, Comey also diminished the notion of data encryption in general at his talk (where no tech experts were asked to participate). He argued that it is a “marketing” technique:
“Encryption isn’t just a technical feature; it’s a marketing pitch … it’s the equivalent of a closet that can’t be opened. A safe that can’t be cracked… And my question is, at what cost?”
While he acknowledged that Apple and Google were responding to user demand, he implicitly dismissed the validity of such demands by insisting that Congress allow the FBI to spy, anyway. He criticized the very demands he claims to respect by arguing that
“If the challenges of real-time interception threaten to leave us in the dark, encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place…Perhaps it’s time to suggest that the post-Snowden pendulum has swung too far in one direction—in a direction of fear and mistrust.”
While private companies are responding to user demand, the government has thus far done little to respond to citizen concern over domestic spying, ignoring the main article the NSA claims allows intrusive spying.
Comey repeatedly cited catching “bad guys” during his talk, though he stated last week on CBS’ 60 Minutes that Americans shouldn’t trust their government. He said:
“I believe that Americans should be deeply skeptical of government power. You cannot trust people in power.”
Perhaps the “bad guys” are the government Comey works for. The FBI’s super-secretive Data Intercept Technology Unit was integral to crafting the PRISM program, which collected mass user data from major American communication companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Skype, Google, and Yahoo and infuriated companies, citizens and privacy groups. It was also the FBI that petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to force Verizon to hand over user data.
During his talk, Comey ironically lamented the loss of rule of law in America that apparently comes with Apple and Google’s new strategy of “going dark”:
“It might be time to ask: Where are we, as a society? Are we no longer a country governed by the rule of law, where no one is above or beyond that law…Are we so mistrustful of government—and of law enforcement—that we are willing to let bad guys walk away?”
By advocating even further intrusion of government agencies into the lives and privacy of Americans, this is exactly what FBI director is advocating.
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