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Encryption United States Politics

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand On Encryption? (windowsitpro.com) 212

v3rgEz writes: In a divided election year, encryption brings parties together — against technology. That's the sobering finding based on transcripts from the remaining presidential candidates, all of whom came out against cryptography and for government backdoors to varying degrees. It's a testament to the post-Snowden era (and Apple's fight against a court order to backdoor an iPhone) that every candidate has been asked about the issue multiple times, but only one candidate even acknowledged that backdoors cause great security concerns for the public.
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Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand On Encryption?

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @08:56PM (#51538787)
    they're indecipherable
    • They have a lot to hide, so they have to encrypt the campaign with the Fluffy Kitten/Kissing Baby cipher.

    • Better question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @09:34PM (#51538951) Journal
      Do the presidential candidates know what encryption is and how technology commonly uses it? Don't set the bar too high - you are dealing with politicians, although one of them apparently ran her own email server so you would hope that she at least knows the value of encryption!
      • Re:Better question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @11:24PM (#51539329) Journal

        Do the presidential candidates know what encryption is and how technology commonly uses it?

        Some of them just dodged the question. I like the way Cruz answered, even if I don't fully agree: Apple has a point in not wanting to do this wholesale, but law enforcement has an actual warrant, and that how the Fourth Amendment is supposed to work.

        Anything that prevents wholesale warrantless data gathering is good IMO, but with a warrant, and not some BS secret warrant from a secret court but a legitimate warrant? There's not a Fourth Amendment case to be made here. Forcing someone to decrypt their own shit violates the Fifth, irredeemably so IMO, but that not this.

        I hope Apple wins because of slippery slopes, not the specific details of this case.

        • Re:Better question (Score:5, Interesting)

          by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @11:46PM (#51539407) Journal

          Apple has a point in not wanting to do this wholesale, but law enforcement has an actual warrant, and that how the Fourth Amendment is supposed to work.

          I don't know how much you know about warrants and the Fourth Amendment, but they can't compel anyone to actually work for the government. Apple is being told that the warrant requires them to develop software on the government's behalf.

          The Fourth Amendment is about search and seizure. The warrant in question doesn't apply to either. The government can't force you to search my house for evidence, for example.

          • I don't know how much you know about warrants and the Fourth Amendment, but they can't compel anyone to actually work for the government. Apple is being told that the warrant requires them to develop software on the government's behalf.

            Exactly this. It's not like Apple has a "magic decryption key" lying around that they could use to unlock the phone. The hardware/software was designed purposefully so that they COULDN'T decrypt it. The government wants Apple to write a software update that will take away

        • Warrants are not all powerful though. And this one was granted under a somewhat dubious legal theory, in that if congress has not explicitly created laws covering the situation that the courts can make a writ. Which was probably important in the early days of the republic but it's a bit of a stretch to think that congress has not already dealt with the issue of privacy, searches, evidence discovery, the limits of law enforcement, and so forth. It seems unlikely to be upheld as it gets to higher courts.

          And

        • ... an actual warrant, and that how the Fourth Amendment ...

          We keep getting into these discussions about encryption, privacy and so on, and that is right and good, but I feel we are just walking in circles. I think, when we are down to quoting constitution and sacred principles of human rights, and it still doesn't settle the discussion, we are not going to get there, unless we are willing to think out of the box. IOW, think about how we can find compromises.

          The thing is that both sides have very good, valid points. The right to privacy and freedom from surveillanc

          • This isn't a new 'problem', as the government would have us believe. There is no sudden urgency, save that on the part of the FBI.
            • This isn't a new 'problem', as the government would have us believe. There is no sudden urgency, save that on the part of the FBI.

              True - but it is still a problem, one way or the other, and we clearly haven't been able to solve it yet. And we never will, unless we are willing to give a little on all sides.

              • All sides, huh? What deep, unprecedented concessions is the federal government willing to make to solve this 'problem'?
        • by DrXym ( 126579 )
          Apple will "win" if the device withstands attack even when they're compelled to assist in decrypting it. People will applaud their technical prowess. But on the flip side the iPhone might find itself banned in countries who don't like phones that can retain their secrets. Countries like China & India who are major markets for the iPhone and who've strongarmed other providers to let them in.

          Apple will "lose" if the device doesn't withstand attack with their help. Then we'll know that their security, ho

        • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

          What exactly can a warrant do? Can a warrant compel me to write software to break into your computer?

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            The court can compel you to do many things, sadly. But if state compels a 3rd party to search you, that's still the state searching you, and they still need a warrant.

      • Do the presidential candidates know what encryption is and how technology commonly uses it?

        They think encryption is what happens after you die.

      • Alright, you get to explain HTTPS to Donald Trump. Good luck.
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      So what? Americans vote based on how the candidates look anyway.

      • So what? Americans vote based on how the candidates look anyway.

        Yes, which is why Bernie Sanders massively lost all the Democratic primaries so far. I mean, who would vote for someone who looks like that?

        • I mean, who would vote for someone who looks like that?

          ...someone that has seen a recent picture of Hillary.

      • by jd2112 ( 1535857 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @11:26PM (#51539339)

        So what? Americans vote based on how the candidates look anyway.

        Good, I can relax now. I was worried that Donald Trump was going to get elected there for a minute.
        Unless he somehow finds a better looking toupee before November we're all safe.

        • by Kohath ( 38547 )

          As far as looks go, Trump is sort of a toss-up versus Hillary or Sanders. Expect low turnout. Trump has more TV experience. That might help him.

          Which cranky aging white person should it be? I hope we can avoid making that choice.

    • how would we know?

      It's a function of how popular they think the opinion is, and whether they've been elected yet.

    • Nah, it's pretty simple. If it's them seeing our secrets, it's fine. If it's us seeing theirs, it's not. No matter who you vote for.

    • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

      they're indecipherable

      Bruce Schneier could decipher them. In his sleep.

      #BruceSchneierFacts

  • Nice try (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 18, 2016 @08:57PM (#51538795)

    The summery has three links to the exact same article. Well, keep trying, I'm still not gonna RTFA.

  • Where do they side? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @09:03PM (#51538817)

    With the government. Maybe except Bernie, I'd guess. This is a surprise? They are the government.

    (...reads TFA...)

    In fact, only one candidate, Marco Rubio, seemed to allow for any nuance on the issue.

    Holy shit... really?

    Rubio:

    Here's the thing though, if you require by law – if we passed a law that required Apple and these companies to create a backdoor, number one, criminals could figure that out and use it against you. And number two, there's already encrypted software that exists, not only now but in the future created in other countries. We would not be able to stop that.

    If you create a backdoor, there is a very reasonable possibility that a criminal gang could figure out what the backdoor is. That possibility is – if you create a backdoor, you're creating a vulnerability. And what you're not going to chance is the fact that other companies around the world who are not subject to U.S. laws – they could create encryption technology that we'll never be able to get access to.

    Wow... someone has an actual technology adviser worth a damn on his staff.

    • In fact, only one candidate, Marco Rubio, seemed to allow for any nuance on the issue.

      Holy shit... really?

      I know right?
      Out of all the response he seemed to capture the complexity of the issue the best. It's a shame he doesn't apply the same tact with other issues.

    • Proof that Rubio is politically naive and not following the direction that the mob is going.

  • We have no idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @09:15PM (#51538869)

    Most if not all presidential candidates who make it this far in the race will say whatever they thing will get them elected.

    Perhaps I'm just unskilled at it, but I'm unable to predict what any President will actually do in office, based on his/her stated positions leading up to the election.

    • I'm unable to predict what any President will actually do in office, based on his/her stated positions leading up to the election.

      I usually try to find out where the majority of their campaign cash comes from, that will give you some clue as to what their policies really are. What they say they'll do and what they'll actually do are not usually very similar.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      You're not the only one. Its the same way every election. Better choices would be nice but when it gets down to it we only get two choices one who claims he will do xyz or another who claims he will do wyz and then the one that gets elected does wtfomgbbq and if we're lucky we don't end up in another war or with more crippled appliances that don't function the way they should.

      • Every new President has to deal with the prior President's policies before they can start creating their own and some policies cannot be easily abandoned. Trump actually stated early in his campaign that he could not lay out the details on how he would handle certain policy issues because until you actually assume office you really do not know what you are up against. Presidential candidates talk like they are running for Emperor instead of a President with limited power.

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @09:31PM (#51538937)

    The comments of those candidates show a total failure of all the intrusions by NSA with their PRISM project. Supposedly the NSA recorded all meta-data (who talks to who), yet the main argument of the presidential candidates on having back doors is not "what were they talking about" but "who were they talking to" - exactly the kind of information that PRISM was supposedly recording.

    Several candidates mention this specifically. Who were they talking to? Who knew about this? What were the contacts of these criminals? What was their network? All these questions the NSA is supposed to be able to answer, if Snowden's revelations are anything to go by. Now I don't doubt Snowden's claims at all, so this all points to a terrible failure of the NSA of doing anything with the massive amount of information on phone calls and e-mail traffic they recorded.

    Of course finding out about crimes or terrorist type attacks in the planning stage based on this kind of data may be incredibly hard; figuring out who these people had contact with after the fact should be much easier as at least they now have a very clear starting point.

    So if there's one thing these pro-back door arguments point at, it's an epic failure of law enforcement. Not only did these agencies totally overstep their legal and moral boundaries, they did nothing to prevent this attack, and can not even provide any help or information after the fact. Maybe they should go back to good old policing: keeping personal contacts with the neighbourhoods, keeping good relations with the people, and actually get useful information directly out of the community the old fashioned way. It'll make lots of people a lot happier (if only because of the increased local security and social situation).

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Follow the funding, tax funds to the contractors, contractors to their politicians. The huge contracts per satellite system, all the other contracts to keep "collect it all" working domestically.
      The contractors then give back to the congress critters that ensure funding flows to select projects and keeps jobs in their states.
      Everyone is winning with ever more funding for expensive domestic signals intelligence collection every decade.
      What can any candidate do in a two party race? Close down 100 or
  • only one? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @09:34PM (#51538949)

    If you read the article, both Rubio and Cruz "acknowledged that backdoors cause great security concerns". That's two.

    Cruz:

    ...Well, listen. I think Apple has a serious argument that they should not be forced to put a backdoor in every cell phone everyone has. That creates a real security exposure for hackers, cyber criminals to break into our cell phones. ...

    Rubio:

    ...Here's the thing though, if you require by law – if we passed a law that required Apple and these companies to create a backdoor, number one, criminals could figure that out and use it against you. ...

    Do people make really obvious mistakes in these summaries on purpose? Are you trolling us?

    • Re:only one? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @09:42PM (#51538985)

      And then you keep reading Cruz's opinion and you get to the part "But, I think law enforcement has the better argument...."

      One might say "I think pro life people have a really good argument, but I think the pro choice people have a better argument", and it would be easy to quote the "I think pro life people have a good argument" part to make them seem pro life. But it's not really fair to call them pro life, nor is it fair to even say they are both pro life and pro choice (i.e. because they like the arguments from both sides).

      • Re:only one? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @12:03AM (#51539467)

        Nevertheless, the statement "only one candidate even acknowledged that backdoors cause great security concerns for the public" is false.

        • If simply paying lip service to the security concerns of backdoors meets your threshold, than it's not just Rubio and Cruz that pass this test. I think most of them do. For example:

          "I think that Apple and probably a lot of other people don't necessarily trust the government these days. There is probably a very good reason for people not to trust the government" --Ben Carson

          And if not from this specific article that collected these specific quotes, I'll bet you can find statements from nearly every candi

    • I suspect that the NSA and the FBI already have the dirt on the field of candidates. Whichever one is going to win, they will be pointed in the correct direction and be on the side of the NSA and FBI at the end of the campaign.

      The cynic in me suspects the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover is still alive and well in Washington. I'm not sure the CIA dirty tricks squads died with Watergate either. With all the information the NSA collects, the dirty tricks squads could be alive and well ...

      • I suspect that the NSA and the FBI already have the dirt on the field of candidates.

        If they had any dirt on Bernie Sanders, I'm thinking they would have used it on him sometime before this. I mean, the guy's been in public life for longer than a lot of NSA and FBI agents have been alive.

  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @09:34PM (#51538953)

    I agree that Rubio seems to have the best stance of the current field, but that's not saying much. Honestly I don't think any of them (except *maybe* Rubio) even understand how encryption works. I would hope that any of these candidates, should they become president, would put more effort into gaining a better understanding of encryption before making any consequential decisions. I think one can be excused for not having a good answer for a question about a complicated technology especially in a debate format where answers need to be in 30 second sound bytes.

    I think if phrased in the language of "We don't put bad mathematics in American textbooks to hedge against terrorists that might read it", we could maybe help the American people and politicians understand what they are dealing with.

    As tragic as the deaths from terrorism are, it's not clear that making all our encryption insecure via backdoors will be a good trade off for some if any reduction in terrorism. There is a very real possibility that we would be causing more deaths and other harm from preventable security breaches.

    Even if some new advancement in cryptography allowed us to have vastly more secure backdoors, (after all the Turing Awards were handed out) it would still not be clear that we *should* give this power to the government, given their history of abuse of their powers and oversight evasion.

    I don't expect every politician to be an expert on every subject, especially encryption. This is where I think character and integrity plays a big role for me.

    I wouldn't say that I trust Marco Rubio to stick to any position if the circumstances changed, and I can't say that I trust his judgement in general. But kudos to him for having the best answer at least currently.

    • by Shompol ( 1690084 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @02:08AM (#51539803)
      Actually Bernie has a better stance on encryption than Rubio. Bernie, last phrase:

      ...make sure that information being transmitted... by ISIS is, in fact, discovered. But I do believe we can do that without violating the constitutional and privacy rights of the American people.

      -- nothing about prohibiting or weakening encryption. Rubio, last phrase:

      We're going to... figure out a way forward on encryption that allows us some capability to access information

      i.e. even with complete understanding of the subject he is still advocating for a backdoor.

      • I think both those statements are about equivalent in terms of not specifically prohibiting or weakening encryption through back doors, yet also implying a backdoor to anyone knowledgeable on the subject of encryption.

        As a Bernie supporter, I can say that I am convinced that Rubio has a better and more educated stance on encryption by this article. That doesn't mean I don't think Bernie can't be educated (as Rubio clearly has been).

        As for most issues, I think character and integrity matters. It is importa

    • Honestly I don't think any of them (except *maybe* Rubio) even understand how encryption works.

      Of course Rubio understands encryption. He's a robot!!!

  • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @10:14PM (#51539111)

    Reading those is genuinely scary. And there's something even more alarming than the nitwitted stand on encryption itself. Nearly all the candidates talk about how they will "make Apple do this" or "have Silicon Valley do that". Their opinions that they should have the power to conscript anyone they damn well please into doing their dirty work for them is the genuinely offensive and frightening. The abuses of the NSA are bad enough. But at least that was an entirely government operation. Forcing uninvolved third parties to unwillingly aid them on spying on the citizens... that's some seriously east-German Stasi level thuggery.

    • Reading those is genuinely scary.

      Only if you aren't very good at reading.

      Nearly all the candidates talk about how they will "make Apple do this" or "have Silicon Valley do that".

      Strange I didn't read it that way.
      Carson: "I believe what we need is a public private partnership when it comes to all of these technical things"
      Clinton: "there could be a Manhattan-like project, something that would bring the government and the tech communities together"
      Rubio: "So I think we're either going to have a figure a way forward by working with Silicon Valley"
      Sanders: "So yes, we have to work with Silicon Valley"
      Trump : "Apple should absolutely -- we sh

      • You do realize "work with" in the minds of all these people means secret courts and warrants forcing involvement. Don't be naive.
  • None of them understand the issue. Some of them are more easily bribed than others. And some them have stronger bribery relationships with some companies.

  • Four links in the lead para. All identical, all to "WindowsIT.pro".

    Show some restraint in shoving your brand down our throats.

    One link is informative. Two is over--enthusiastic. FOUR IS SPAM.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And he is against all back doors.

  • SOMEONE please explain why they NEED to unlock that phone? Every call and text to that phone went through U.S. communications channels!
    • They're just trying to capitalize on a crisis to strong-arm Apple into obedience. The shooters are already dead.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @10:52PM (#51539231)

    There's at least one candidate - Clinton - whose views on encryption have already be backed by action, namely her and Bill's friend Al "Clipper Chip" Gore and support for the Clipper Chip [eff.org] itself.

    Notable that the FBI is trying to make a government mandated backdoor happen again...

  • No way to actually know. They won't tell us, and even if they got caught lying about it, then they would just point at some obscure law that required them to lie about it.

    Going on the personalities, I believe that Bernie Sanders has the right philosophy on that issue, as on so many others. Most of the other candidates are corporatist tools who will do and say whatever the big companies want them to do and say. A couple of them are dangerous authoritarian lunatics, and it's just a matter of degree. I would s

  • by seoras ( 147590 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @12:23AM (#51539523)

    Apple's not been spending enough of it's huge pile of cash on "lobbying" or "campaign funds". If that's what you want to call it.
    Those who would like a bite of that juicy fruit are trying to shake them down with all this "backdoor" bullshit.

    I can't seriously believe America is run by morons who think forcing it's tech companies into breaking their products is not going to affect international sales.

    Ask Cisco...

  • Incomplete sampling (Score:5, Informative)

    by wirefall ( 309232 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @01:34AM (#51539715)

    "That's the sobering finding based on transcripts from the remaining presidential candidates, all of whom came out against cryptography"

    I call BS! Find a Libertarian candidate who supports this...oh you meant one of the media authorized duopoly? Then, of course; there is no difference between them.

    Gary Johnson 2016!

  • First it should be a "front door". Something that everyone knows its there, rather than a secret weaselish thing.
    Secondly, it must be something that not only requires possessing the actual device, but also cracking it open to access some internal header pin where you plug this "magical device" that can extract the phone password from an otherwise write only memory that can't be read by the phone itself even if you reset/voltage/clock glitch it.
    And finally, this "magical device" must be really secure and una

  • "In a divided election year, encryption brings parties together — against technology."

    Because the populace is oh so ter-terr-terrified of ter-terr-terrorists that there are shit tons of votes to be had by a politician who is for anything that can be marketed as being 'Against Terrorism' (tm).

    Most Americans don't stop listening to MSM long enough to actually consider that the actual threat from terrorism is effectively zero.

  • Sorry folks, but the right to privately encrypt is political "flyover country". You are hard pressed to find a candidate willing to make a deliberate and informed statement about it, and even then, don't be surprised if you get screwed over. No pitchfork mob will rise up with you to redress your grievance. Bill Clinton seemed reasonable until he and his NSA inspired hatchet-men Al Gore and Louis Freeh rolled out the Clipper Chip abomination [wikipedia.org] . It was like lightning from a clear sky. A clear example of the

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @10:25AM (#51541067)
    Well, we already knew that all the presidential candidates were both technically illiterate and leaned towards totalitarian government. However, their statements give an Onionesque comical characterization of what their deficiencies actually are, from Ben Carson's inconsistent ramblings, to Clinton's "we need a Manhattan project", to Sanders "corporations are evil even when they try to protect privacy".

    I suppose it's better than the last guy, who made strong promises before the election and then did a shifty-eyed retreat when he had become president: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Then the NRA would be all over this and every politician would cry Second Amendment.
  • Let's make a law where the police have the master key to all locks on your house and your car. Because terrorists.

  • brings parties together — against technology

    Encryption isn't all technology, if I may be so pedantic. And quite a bit of technology is involved in breaking or modifying encryption.
    But agreed, backdoors are dangerous, bad ideas.

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