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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, both our winning comments on the insightful side take a similar approach, responding piece-by-piece to the FBI director’s insistence that it’s possible to create compromised-but-secure encryption. The first place winner is That One Guy:

Wrong from start to finish

We have a whole bunch of folks at FBI Headquarters devoted to explaining this challenge and working with stakeholders to find a way forward.

Great, then have them come up with what you insist is absolutely possible, ‘secure’ broken encryption, and let everyone else stress test it before you force it on the public. In fact, if you’re so sure that it can be done, start with your own agency, mandating that you use whatever ‘encryption’ system you want everyone else to be required to use, for no less than one year. Every system must use it, no exceptions, as anything else would be an admission that you don’t believe that what you’re pushing is truly secure.

But we need and want the private sector’s help.

No, you ‘need and want’ their subservience, their unquestioning obedience. That is distinctly different than wanting their help.

We need them to respond to lawfully issued court orders, in a way that is consistent with both the rule of law and strong cybersecurity.

Those are mutually exclusive options, taking one will necessarily require sacrificing the other. Strong cybersecurity means that good and bad people can make use of security that prevents both those with a badge and those without from accessing, easily or at all, certain data.

We need to have both, and can have both.

No, you want both, but you cannot have both. At ‘best’ you can have one, but it will require that the other be given up.

I recognize this entails varying degrees of innovation by the industry to ensure lawful access is available.

In that it would require ‘varying degrees of innovation’ for the automotive industry to create cars that can ignore gravity with a flick of a switch, sure. Or in the sense that it would require ‘varying degrees of innovation’ for mathematicians to come up with a way for 2+2 to equal 5.

But I just don’t buy the claim that it’s impossible.

Translation: “I want your ‘help’, but I refuse to believe you when you tell me something isn’t possible, as advice clearly isn’t a form of help I welcome.”

We have the brightest minds doing and creating fantastic things.

‘… Minds which we/I will completely ignore when they tell us/me that something isn’t possible, and/or make a statement that contradicts one of my stated positions.’

This reminds me of a perfect example someone else brought up to highlight the absurdity of this argument by noting that just because we can land a person on the moon, does not mean we can land a person on the sun(well, not and get them back…). Just because we have smart people creating other stuff, does not mean they can do the impossible in this case.

Again, I’m open to all kinds of ideas.


You’re only open to ideas that match your preconceived notions and that support what you want. Anything else is to be rejected out of hand.

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.

In which case his mind would be absolutely shattered were someone to tell him about another form of communication, talking in private, that no amount of ‘lawful authority’ that wasn’t completely tyrannical and invasive could access.

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.

Only because you refuse to look or even acknowledge their existence. There are plenty of people who have looked at the existence of encryption, realized that it does allow bad people to do bad things at times, and yet still come to the conclusion that the gains vastly outweigh the costs.

(Gotta love the attempt at poisoning the well there by framing anyone who disagrees with him as not being ‘reasonable’.)

Broken encryption/’Responsible’ encryption/Unicorn gates were a stupid and dangerous idea when they first came up, and they remain a stupid and dangerous idea now. That the gorram FBI Director is pushing for an idea that he knows will cause vast amounts of damage(the only alternative to this is that he is impossibly stupid) is a disgrace to the position, and should be grounds for removal of office, or at the very least everyone firmly and strongly telling him to shut the hell up when it comes to topics that he is clearly unfit to comment on.

The country is not well served by an FBI director trying to make things easier for criminals and terrorists to harm the public, and he, or anyone else, really shouldn’t need to be told this.

And the second place winner is PaulT:

“What we’re asking for is the ability to access the device once we’ve obtained a warrant from an independent judge, who has said we have probable cause.”

a.k.a. a back door. It doesn’t matter what kind of lock you install, who guards the keys for it and who you get permission to use them from. It’s still a door, and even a locked door is more vulnerable than simply not making a hole in the wall to install it in the first place.

What he and his kind are missing is simple – no matter how strong the door, no matter how restricted the access, no matter where it is installed – it still has keys, those keys can be used by the “bad guys” and once they have the keys it makes everyone less safe.

“Being unable to access nearly 78-hundred devices is a major public safety issue.”

The actual evidence for this is lacking. Perhaps instead of trying to mislead people about what they’re asking for, they’d be better served by explaining what it is that not being able to easily access these phones is preventing them from doing. Bearing in mind that authorities have never had instant access to the kind of data they’re trying to get here, but they still managed to do their jobs anyway in the past. If they want new powers, they need to both explain why they need them and why the public need for them is greater than the public need for effective encryption.

“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.”

He’s right here. The problem is that he’s part of the group that wants to push things further in the unacceptable direction.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Michael about Rhode Island’s attempt to mandate porn filters:

I am a parent. I worry about what my children will find on the internet. I worry about what my children will find in my back yard.

I have not asked anyone to provide me with internet filters or back yard filters. I AM THE FILTER.

Parenting is hard work. If you think the government should be filtering out porn on the internet to make your job easier as a parent, I would suggest you should not become a parent.

Next, we’ve got an anonymous comment responding to one racist jerk’s attempt to sue Twitter for violating his civil rights:

So which of these options makes Racist a protected class? “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation.”

Is he claiming it is a mental disability or a religion?

Over on the funny side, both winners are again on the same post, but this time from two different anonymous commenters responding to the group of five senators who feel search engines should censor drug information. The first place winner wondered how that would play out:

*Guy in trench coat and sunglasses* Hey kid, want to try some cocaine?

*Teenager, pulling out his phone to Google it* Well, nothing bad shows up in the search results. Sure, why not!

The second place winner, meanwhile, was having none of it:

*Five People Standing Around a Computer Monitor Agree: Five Senators Are Idiots

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got a pair of responses to Trump’s ridiculous violent video game summit. First, it’s an anonymous commenter replying to the idea that, despite the evidence showing no link between games and violence, it still must be true because it “intuitively seems” that way:

I’ve been trying to tell my bank that it just intuitively seems that I should have far more money in my account than my statement shows. I don’t know why they won’t just take my word for it.

Next, after one commenter wondered just how Trump is choosing which games to get upset about, Thad noted at least one pattern emerging:

He does seem particularly incensed about games where you kill nazis.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Author: Leigh Beadon

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