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Legal professional Normal says tech firms ought to break robust encryption – jj
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Legal professional Normal says tech firms ought to break robust encryption

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Apple: Keep Out, privacy
Barr’s comments won’t win him any friends in Cupertino!
Photo: Apple

Attorney general William Barr has a warning for tech companies using strong encryption: You need to be willing to break it.

In a keynote at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York, Barr stressed that it is important that law enforcement can crack encrypted messages when they need to do so. The comments are likely to win Barr no friends in Cupertino, given Apple’s stance on privacy.

“Obviously, the [Justice] Department would like to engage with the private sector in exploring solutions that will provide lawful access,” Barr said. “While we remain open to a cooperative approach, the time to achieve that may be limited.”

Barr did not call out Apple specifically. However, the scenario he refers to directly relates to a 2015 incident involving Apple. After a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernadino, a federal judge asked Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone. This device belonged to the suspect in the case. Apple refused to comply, leading to a standoff with the FBI.

Barr said that drug cartels can also use strong encryption to hide what they are doing. He mentioned how a Mexican cartel used WhatsApp as a way around wiretaps.

“Warrant-proof encryption is also seriously impairing our ability to monitor and combat domestic and foreign terrorists,” Barr continued. “As with drug cartels, we are seeing terrorist organizations moving their communications to encrypted platforms designed to block lawful access. Even smaller terrorist groups and ‘lone wolf’ actors have turned increasingly to encryption.”

Pushing for encryption

Apple has long been a vocal proponent of encryption. When possible anti-encryption legislation has been discussed overseas, Apple has spoken out against it. It also continues to tout this as one of its big selling points. Recently, Apple debuted new pro-privacy billboards in Canada. One reads, “We’re in the business of staying out of yours.”

Unsurprisingly, this stance hasn’t exactly endeared Apple (or Silicon Valley) to lawmakers. A recent report claimed that senior White House officials have discussed banning end-to-end encryption. From the sound of Barr’s comments, that time might be coming sooner rather than later…

Source: CNBC

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