After yesterday’s Senate committee hearing on encryption, wherein both FBI Director James Comey and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. made some pretty nasty comments about strong encryption on smartphones and the apocolyptic-problems it could bring, I thought it might be a good idea to remind everyone of what Representative Ted Lieu of California said back in April about why some users wanted smartphone encryption in the first place:
Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.
[T]o me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.
And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this. Because the NSA, your colleagues, have essentially violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen for years by seizing all of our phone records, by collecting our Internet traffic, that is now spilling over to other aspects of law enforcement. And if you want to get this fixed, I suggest you write to NSA: the FBI should tell the NSA, stop violating our rights. And then maybe you might have much more of the public on the side of supporting what law enforcement is asking for.
Then let me just conclude by saying I do agree with law enforcement that we live in a dangerous world. And that’s why our founders put in the Constitution of the United States—that’s why they put in the Fourth Amendment. Because they understand that an Orwellian overreaching federal government is one of the most dangerous things that this world can have.
It might be worth point out that Rep. Lieu is one of four House members with computer science degrees, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves, and served for four years as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, making him (IMHO) someone knowledgeable in this area.
And it just so happens that fourteen of the world’s top computer security experts agree with him, but who’s counting.