This week, a new report authored by 15 cybersecurity and computer science experts warned that the FBI’s goal of gaining “exceptional access” to tech companies’ encryption systems could pose an even bigger risk than anything fraudsters or terrorists could cook up. The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Technical Report—issued by MIT—is titled “Keys Under Doormats: Mandating insecurity by requiring government access to all data and communications”.
The report was a grenade from technologists and privacy advocates in their ideological war with intelligence and law enforcement leaders. The group of security technologists intentionally issued the 31-pager the day before FBI Director James Comey and Sally Quillian Yates, the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Comey fired back in a LAWFARE op-ed that there are lots of good things about universally strong encryption (e.g., expanded privacy and protection from cybercriminals), but the benefits must be weighed against the potential risks of making it harder for the government to access the digital communications and data of likely wrongdoers.
Scott O’Connell of the Telegram & Gazette paints a picture of the U.S. government’s concerns:
Somewhere in cyberspace, ISIS operatives are busy planning something and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s concern is that thanks to today’s stronger encryption technology, it’s increasingly difficult to figure out what that something is.