FBI Backs Away from the Backdoor and Asks for Private Sector Co-op

Posted by Kyle 8:55 AM (CDT)

Monday March 12, 2018

The FBI and access to your encrypted devices have been in the news a lot over the last year (here, here, and here are just a few examples). Even last week stories of the FBI using Geek Squad employees as confidential informants surfaced. The common thread, and biggest point of disgust with the public, has been the FBI angling for backdoors to devices, which as we all know will simply compromise device security in a big way. The FBI is now backing away from that position, which is likely a good tactic as chances of that happening look to be slim to none. While it is still a tad bit unclear, it seems that the FBI is asking for encryption keys be provided with proper warranting, rather than backdoor access to every phone on the planet. The FBI does note a working structure in place with Symphony for access, however that same scenario is not going to happen with many companies. Thanks cagey.

Let me be clear: The FBI supports information security measures, including strong encryption. Actually, the FBI is on the front line fighting cyber crime and economic espionage. But information security programs need to be thoughtfully designed so they don’t undermine the lawful tools we need to keep the American people safe.

A responsible solution will incorporate the best of two great American traditions—the rule of law and innovation. But for this to work, the private sector needs to recognize that it’s part of the solution. Again, I’m open to all kinds of ideas. But I reject this notion that there could be such a place that no matter what kind of lawful authority you have, it’s utterly beyond reach to protect innocent citizens. I also can’t accept that anyone out there reasonably thinks the state of play as it exists now—much less the direction it’s going—is acceptable.