Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Encryption Google Privacy United States Apple

Former FBI Director James Comey Reveals How Apple and Google's Encryption Efforts Drove Him 'Crazy' (fastcompany.com) 351

An anonymous reader shares a report: In his explosive new book, A Higher Loyalty, fired FBI director James Comey denounces President Trump as "untethered to the truth" and likens him to a "mob boss," but he also touches on other topics during his decades-long career in law enforcement -- including his strong objection to the tech industry's encryption efforts. When Apple and Google announced in 2014 that they would be moving their mobile devices to default encryption, by emphasizing that making them immune to judicial orders was good for society, "it drove me crazy," he writes. He goes on to lament the lack of "true listening" between tech and law enforcement, saying that "the leaders of the tech companies don't see the darkness the FBI sees," such as terrorism and organized crime.

He writes, "I found it appalling that the tech types couldn't see this. I would frequently joke with the FBI 'Going Dark' team assigned to seek solutions, 'Of course the Silicon Valley types don't see the darkness -- they live where it's sunny all the time and everybody is rich and smart." But Comey understood it was an unbelievably difficult issue and that public safety had to be balanced with privacy concerns.

Former FBI Director James Comey Reveals How Apple and Google's Encryption Efforts Drove Him 'Crazy'

Comments Filter:
  • Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by OffTheLip ( 636691 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:02PM (#56441805)
    I hope it continues to drive him and others of his ilk crazy.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:20PM (#56441919) Homepage Journal

      He is crazy. Look at this statement:

      public safety had to be balanced with privacy concerns

      These are the SAME THING. If you weaken encryption people become less safe from those who want to invade their privacy and steal their data.They become more vulnerable to criminals and oppressive governments.

      He seems to live in a fantasy world where there are good guys and bad guys and magical thinking actually works.

      • Re: Good (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think it's more that he axiomaticly believes that the Good Guys could never become the Bad Guys. He can't even conceive the possibility.
        He cannot see what us right in front of his face, that his former bosses are not Good Guys.

        The tech guys get it, that as bad as the Bad Guys may be, it is even worse for everyone when the Good Guys become bad actors and/or act in bad faith.

        I as a naive peon simply see the FBI as being lazy. they have more than enough tools, techniques etc to do what us peons need them to

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SoftwareArtist ( 1472499 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @08:29PM (#56443365)

        public safety had to be balanced with privacy concerns

        In some ways he's right about this: there are situations where you really do need to balance one against the other. And that's the whole problem. The FBI, NSA, etc. decided it was up to them where to strike the balance, which of course meant giving themselves as much power as possible. And since they knew a lot of rabble rousing citizens wouldn't agree with their decisions, they went to huge lengths to hide what they were doing (and are still doing). If you keep your actions secret, you don't have to worry about anyone criticizing you.

        By doing that, they betrayed democracy. If a balance has to be struck between safety and privacy, it's up to the people to decide where to strike it. Not the police. Not the government. And the people can only make that decision through a fully informed public debate. The FBI and NSA didn't want a public debate, so they just did what they wanted and slapped "top secret" on everything to keep the people from finding out. By doing that, they made themselves into the bad guys. And they will remain the bad guys until they come clean about everything they have done, and accept that it's up to the people, not up to themselves, to decide where to strike the balance.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Well, you see, you just don't get it. By public, they do not mean you, you don't count, you are not a person, not a real one, not the one percent that is, you are the 99%, the consumables. They want to be safe from us, when they lie to us, when they cheat us, when they steal from us and when they kill us. So their public safety (the only people that count, the one percent) has to be balanced against our privacy the 99%, well, the completely and utter total lack of it, hell, they don't concern themselves wit

    • I mean, the article proving this is bullshit [slashdot.org] is still on the front page here. At best it's a minor inconvenience. Your phone's been owned 8 ways from Sunday. This crap from Comey is all just theater.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hey Comey, didn't you serve on the board of directors overseeing the laundering of drug money while at HSBC of like 1.9 BILLION dollars????

      I don't see that in your book.

    • Re: Good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @03:51PM (#56442333)

      Last I checked, the IV amendment doesn't say:
      "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" EXCEPT WHEN IT ANNOYS THE FBI DIRECTOR.

      • Yeah, I have to agree with tsa and the AC on this one. It's like the meaning of the word "unreasonable" in that sentence went completely over your head. People and courts can argue about precisely what that word means in that sentence until the end of time (or until a new amendment is passed to override it), but the way US law stands right now, if the courts find it reasonable, law enforcement officials have the right to violate your privacy. Feel free to complain about it all you like, it's not likely to c

    • Amen, and couldn't the "the leaders of the tech companies" say the same exact thing but in opposite, in return? All crime enforcement sees is darkness and crime, not the truth that a majority of people are law abiding citizens? But no, it's not sunny, rich, and happy all the time... that doesn't exist anywhere.
  • nuts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by e**(i pi)-1 ( 462311 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:07PM (#56441837) Homepage Journal
    it would be nice to see how "crazy" he would feel if his own phone was hacked, his personal bank accounts stolen, his medical history made public, his emails analyzed in a foreign county just because a backdoor was mandatory for mobile devices.
    • Re:nuts (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:48PM (#56442027)

      Do you really think strong encryption keeps your phone from being 'hacked'. All it does - and all it's supposed to do - is keep someone in possession of your phone from reading its contents without unlocking it. But once you've unlocked your phone and the OS is running, any malware you've got on it has no problem reading all your data, stealing your bank account, etc.

      Now I'm not saying that it's not a good thing to have your phone encrypted - and strongly so. But let's not pretend that law enforcement - or even bad government actors - are the same thing as your everyday fraudsters that are able to steal your info just fine with the best encryption Apple can provide. Encryption does not protect your from OS bugs and malware that you installed and granted access to your device.

      • There is a difference between protecting data on my phone and protecting data travelling from my phone over the internet possibly from a hotel in America to a bank in my home country

        And let's not pretend anything in the government's hands is safe. You might recall a fairly well known event where a guy called Snowdon managed to get hold of all the US Governmetn's secret stuff. How many others have also got it, but kept their mouths shut?

        Rest assured, other governments are no better at keeping data secret.

        • Remember, half the population is of below average intelligence,

          That is completely untrue. Intelligence is an inverted bathtub curve. Most people are of average intelligence, and it's not statistically possible to differentiate between them. So a huge hunk of the population is about the same intelligence.

    • by Rande ( 255599 )

      Of course, he'd be using a government phone where the keys would be kept a lot more securely than consumers phones, so he wouldn't have to worry about it.

  • by sentiblue ( 3535839 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:15PM (#56441889)
    I appreciate the work and dedication that law enforcement have to serve this country but that's where it ends. Cracking criminal is the task that law enforcement MUST do. The tech industry can help whenever they can but that's not a required responsibility. If they say they cannot help, they cannot help.
  • Google it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:26PM (#56441941) Journal

    He goes on to lament the lack of "true listening" between tech and law enforcement, saying that "the leaders of the tech companies don't see the darkness the FBI sees," such as terrorism and organized crime.

    You colossally ignorant savage, you see tiny issues like terrorism and organized crime and don't see the darkness George Orwell, the Founding Fathers, and many others saw -- a boot stepping on a human face, forever.

    Billions continue to live in despotism as their leaders use the tech you want for "crime" to catch and punish any challengers to their power.

    Both Russia and China have leaders currently consolidating power for the long term, at least partly because of the lack of crypto government can't get into.

    Thou impious fool.

  • He's right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tyrannosaur ( 2485772 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:40PM (#56442001)

    "the leaders of the tech companies don't see the darkness the FBI sees"

    They see a different, more dangerous kind of darkness: one brought about by the FBI and law enforcement and the rest of the government itself. The 4th amendment and the broader right to privacy itself is supremely important to avoiding a tyrannical government.

    This is more important than any benefit against terrorism and organized crime.

    • "the leaders of the tech companies don't see the darkness the FBI sees"

      They see a different, more dangerous kind of darkness: one brought about by the FBI and law enforcement and the rest of the government itself. The 4th amendment and the broader right to privacy itself is supremely important to avoiding a tyrannical government.

      Er, except when it comes to "progressive" causes. In that realm, it's perfectly fine to, say, target you with the IRS for wrongthink :)

  • Comey... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:41PM (#56442007)

    So what we know about Comey is:

    (1) He was politically motivated in Hillary's E-mail case, trying to help her gain legitimacy after election.

    (2) He was politically motivated to hurt Trump.

    (3) He likes to spy on American citizens.

    "A Higher Loyalty" indeed. The FBI started out being run by megalomaniac, corrupt authoritarians, and little has apparently changed.

    • The FBI started out being run by megalomaniac, corrupt authoritarians, and little has apparently changed.

      No one has accused Comey of cross-dressing, though.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by reboot246 ( 623534 )
        He does a pretty good job dressing as a human to disguise his real identity - a snake.

        Comey's loyalty is to the state and himself. He doesn't know God. He has nothing but disdain for ordinary citizens. He hates Trump with a passion few have. He's a big man wrapped up in himself. I pray for his soul.

        Yep, he's a snake.
    • Re:Comey... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2018 @04:04PM (#56442393)

      Saying Hillary was under investigation 11 days before an election was hardly helping her. Democrats are all oh so mad about that. He was just point out a possible upside.

      He seems motivated by a personal code of morality that is intentionally oblivious to political reality.

    • Higher loyalty indeed.

      You just don't know what the higher power is to which he gives his loyalty.

    • (1) He was politically motivated in Hillary's E-mail case, trying to help her gain legitimacy after election.

      Did you sleep through the entire election? Comey is the one who brought up the emails a week or two before the election, claiming there was some hithertoo undiscovered cache of emails that hadn't been examined yet... which turned out to be complete BS.

      Comey was a major reason why Clinton lost the election. She was leading by a wide margin before Comey stuck his oar in.

      • Re:Comey... (Score:5, Informative)

        by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @10:15PM (#56443741)

        Comey is the one who brought up the emails a week or two before the election

        Yes, and he has personally stated why. He didn't do it to hurt Clinton, he did it because he assumed she was going to win and thought it would help her to deal with this before her coronation.

        Comey was a major reason why Clinton lost the election. She was leading by a wide margin before Comey stuck his oar in.

        Hillary lost because she was a lying, incompetent, corrupt psychopath with no charisma, no political skills, and no redeeming qualities: she caused life-long Democrats like myself to leave the party in disgust.

        Polls showed her leading all the way until election day; the polls were simply wrong. Probably a lot of people who hated her hung up on pollsters, like I did. Why help these people manipulate me?

        • Re:Comey... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dwpro ( 520418 ) <dgeller777@gmail. c o m> on Monday April 16, 2018 @11:57AM (#56446283)

          Yes, and he has personally stated why. He didn't do it to hurt Clinton, he did it because he assumed she was going to win and thought it would help her to deal with this before her coronation.

          I'd say that's the least-gracious way to read that. My take is that he didn't think it would be a game-changer for the outcome, and that if the news came out after the election that the'd re-opened the investigation it would undermine the legitimacy of the election (IE, the deep state covering up for Hillary). Moreover, at the time the word on the street was that that folks inside the FBI were going to leak it if Comey didn't speak up, so his hand was forced either way.

      • He did that to seize evidence from New York cops, who know how to prosecute corruption. Get the evidence safely in the hands of the FBI, where it can be buried.

        What was Hillary thinking, anyway? Sending classified information on a crappy Windows server? She should be in Leavenworth for that! You and I certainly would be.

    • by golodh ( 893453 )
      We know even more about Mr. Comey. E.g. we also know that Mr. Comey is:

      (4) An excellent judge of character in spotting a mob boss who gained office

      (5) Someone with the moral integrity not to give a personal oath of loyalty to an "El Presidente" figure.

      I wonder how long Dirty Donald will be able to continue to abuse and debase his political office and menace the world. Personally I can't wait until Mr. Mueller subpoenas his emails and makes him eligible for the extended jail service he so tantalisingly

      • (4) An excellent judge of character in spotting a mob boss who gained office

        Actually, what his "mob boss" comment shows is that he is someone who misuses the authority of his office and fails to fulfill his job function properly.

        (5) Someone with the moral integrity not to give a personal oath of loyalty to an "El Presidente" figure.

        You have to completely lack moral integrity yourself to think that Comey's corrupt and partisan conduct amounts to "moral integrity".

        Personally I can't wait until Mr. Mueller sub

  • Context? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @02:53PM (#56442041)

    This book hasn't been released yet. The link provides a short quote and opinions about the context without sufficient information to be useful for anything but marketing hype. The link is an advertorial designed to generate hype.

  • Works both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denbesten ( 63853 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @03:03PM (#56442075)

    He [James Comey] goes on to lament the lack of "true listening" between tech and law enforcement, saying that "the leaders of the tech companies don't see the darkness the FBI sees,"

    Similarly, the FBI appears to be not listening to the tech companies and not seeing the darkness they see. Things such state secrets repeatedly escaping (Snoden, Reality Winner, TSA keys [techcrunch.com]), a perception that when a secret is shared with somebody else, it no longer is a secret and a belief that if one person can "break" encryption, so can somebody else.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @03:30PM (#56442233)

    Police hold a lot of power. The definition of the boundaries on that power should not be definable by them.

    Police (ethical ones) really only care about what they can do within the law to solve crimes. It’s not their job to think about the big questions, and I’m not going to fault them for that (although the top cops should probably try to step outside their box).

    But it’s also why I don’t put a lot of weight into their opinions on things like this, or the rights of the accused, or the inviolability of personal property. And it’s one of the many reasons the people who *did* spend time thinking about the big questions gave us a Bill of Rights.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @03:49PM (#56442319) Journal

    Hacker culture started during the Baby Boom's coming-of-age period. The government was in a massive crackdown on the young population, in a ways far too numerous and complex to go into here. The reaction was a distrust of the government and institutions related to its support and function, and both cultural and organized resistance to them. This reaction was massive.

    Among those institutions were law enforcement and the criminal justice system, which had been massively perverted to attack the government's perceived opposition. This is when the drug war started. This is when RICO was passed, encouraging police to steal people's property. This is when concentration camps for dissidents were legislated and designed (but, fortunately, not used and the legislation later repealed). This is when the FBI, along with special "red squads" of local police, were used to infiltrate and disrupt political organizations (See COINTELPRO),. I could go on. Police were viewed as an invading army.

    Similarly, the Vietnam conflict and the draft - a threat of slavery and death - were used to "channel" the new generation into desired occupations - and to stretch their entry into the job market out by pushing more of them into college than would historically have gone, in order to avoid an expected economic crash to dwarf the Great Depression. Institutions in any way connected with the war were considered culpable and attacked: Banks (help fund the war), chemical companies (make explosives, defoliants, and Napalm), the monopoly telephone company (collected a war tax).

    In the midst of this (and to a large extent, in the California counter-culture hub that became Silicon Valley), personal computers were developed and the programs and applications for them were designed and/or deployed.

    Is it any wonder companies (pre-institutional-web), founded and built up by the people who grew up in that environment, as part of that culture, would distrust law enforcement and favor the interests of their equipment's users over it?

    And who's the point company in this conflict? Apple! Built by Jobs and Woz. Who got their seed money making "Blue Boxes" - devices to bypass the "war-supporting price-gouging" monopoly phone company's billing - during that era.

    Doesn't surprise me at all. (Of course I lived through it, and to some extent was part of it. So I no doubt have personally seen more of it than the massively sanitized, repeatedly rewritten, dumbed-down, and politically-warped historical record, as promulgated by the current media conglomerates, will ever tell you.)

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @04:22PM (#56442471)

    With 5 to 6 TIMES percent of U.S. population sitting in prisons vs. European and Australian countries with similar standards of living and systems of governance I would say LEA is already doing an amazing job considering their hands are tied by "darkness".

    Look how well they've done with civil assert forfeiture being so successful trend line over decades has actually managed to exceed sum total of everything reported stolen. Way to go LEA!! Truly an amazing result. Imagine would it could be if only speaking in codes unknown to LEA were outlawed.

    Steady bending of sentencing to enhance plea deals as an effective means of extortion now results in a 60 to 70% disparity in jail time for the same crime for those whose only additional sin was failure to forfeit their right to jury trial.

    What this country really needs is for more people to give up more of their rights so LEA can do an even better job and keep everyone even safer. We're already 5-6 times safer than everyone else....

    Oh what's that you say? We're not? You mean even with all of those extra people sitting in jail U.S. is 3-4 times less safe? No... can't be... I'm shocked...

    • Yep -- this sums up the American "justice" system quite well. Except if you're the CEO of a firm selling opiates instead of a street-level crack/meth dealer. Then you get a retirement package and die in the Bahamas at age 95. Same goes for being a CEO whose company was convicted of Medicare fraud. No jail, just a cush job as governor of Florida...

      To paraphrase Leona Helmsley -- "only the little people pay for their crimes in any serious way."

  • It's a shame Mr. Comey was constantly surrounded by poor imbeciles living under cloudy conditions most of the time but the point here is that the standard must be set for an ideal world or you've destroyed what you are trying to protect. Not unlike raising your kids while a teacher with a gun imposes upon them, for their safety of course. You would however be raising people who see absolute authority in weapons as most of us tend to remember our teachers for the rest of our lives, sometimes as people to e
  • The moral problem is that Comey and all the right-wing do-gooders think only bad people want to encrypt stuff and only good people want to read it.

    Where their logic falls apart is the "good people" section. Jesus said it best. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Given the homosexual child rape of Catholic monks and the coverup of it, along with the divorces and affairs of countless married ministers, and the blatant greed and avarice of the mega-church pastors in Texas, I don't automaticall
  • Comey not only threw some acid on the Hillary email investigation wounds with the admission that the agency effectively undermined any investigation, the fact that there was more to the tarmac meeting than admitted and that there could be more to come if he ever spoke in an investigation. Now he’s admitting that he himself wants to undermine your basic constitutional rights.

    Comey’s book is as much an indictment at Trump as it is a big warning of potential blackmail on the Democrats. He’s b

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @05:24PM (#56442689)

    "the leaders of the tech companies don't see the darkness the FBI sees"...

    Gee Comey, ever consider the fact that tech companies don't see this because the government chose to keep that CLASSIFIED?!?

    Not to mention pointing out the fact that the tech companies kind of woke the hell up with regards to default encryption when Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 what the US Government does when encryption is NOT the default standard. How ironic our OWN Intel community caused this shift in default behavior...

  • I kind of understand his point, to be honest.
    The old system of the police getting a warrant from a judge in order to wiretap a reasonably suspicious person's telephone, in order to make sure that he's actually a bad guy made sense. There was control and oversight, a reasonable expectation of privacy for the rest of us, and the police could use this tool to catch some bad guys (always with judge oversight).

    Nowadays everyone only has to follow some short tutorials to get secure communication channels that
  • Comey doesn't recognise the darkness which is the various policing forces.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday April 15, 2018 @07:08PM (#56443125)

    But we are also capable of something you apparently cannot do: See beyond our own needs. Which is scary considering that your job is to put yourself into the boots of criminals so you understand how they think which allows you to catch them more easily.

    We know that catching terrorists is harder when there is encryption. But flawed encryption means that terrorists will use perfect encryption while your industry, having to obey the law, has to use faulty one which can easily be cracked, not only by you but also by, say, North Korea. Which is certainly interesting in case of, say, a company developing new and more efficient means of enriching nuclear material.

    Apparently you can't think this far. It's not that hard, really. In other words, I rarely agree with Trump, but firing you was one of his more sensible moves. We don't need ignorant people who are unfit for their job in critical positions.

    • Apparently you can't think this far. It's not that hard, really. In other words, I rarely agree with Trump, but firing you was one of his more sensible moves. We don't need ignorant people who are unfit for their job in critical positions.

      Thank god we don't any of those kinds of people left...in the government...

  • All the 3 letter agencies had a lot of trust... But they abused their position, the Snowden revelations made that clear.
    They routinely violated laws in many countries, and when caught they weaseled out of it. Nobody admitted that what they had done was wrong, there was no massive change in leadership or policy. So trust was lost.

    Suddenly, being safe from government abuse became a sales point, and tech companies were quick to jump that.
    These days security people will discuss how to minimize risks from st
  • The NSA, CIA, GCHQ and DEA. They would have helped domestically.
  • Read this thread and reflect on how abusive government will take advantage of week crypro, or how criminals will not follow the law anyway, or how you probably not want limits on your key size or registration of all strong encryption. Live and let live!

  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Monday April 16, 2018 @02:25AM (#56444371)

    Trump is a scumbag you wouldn't leave alone in a room with your teenage daughter and the FBI hates encryption? Well, that sounds like a book full of amazing revelations; I must get a copy and see if he sheds any light on just what those bears are up to in the woods. Damn bears!

  • summarized (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reverend Green ( 4973045 ) on Monday April 16, 2018 @03:05AM (#56444461)

    Disgraced formner gestapo chief flatulently criticizes nouveau riche president for insufficient authoritarianism, pretends to be appalled by Silicon Valley tycoons who sell pretend-secure cellphones.

  • Repeat after me: "encryption BAD, because of the Donald".

    And you have the word of a self-admitted insane person for it.

  • If there's no encryption, the criminals will simply exploit other people's computers, just as they have in the past. This leaves no forensic traces on the criminal's computers. Want to talk darkness? Good place to start, the Involuntary Cloud.

    If there is encryption, anything that would leave physical evidence still does so. Forensic labs are underfunded or privatised. In either case, incorrect results leading to false convictions and false rejection of suspects are commonplace. Getting those sorted would ma

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday April 16, 2018 @10:47AM (#56445847) Homepage Journal

    ^ The memoirs of James Comey

  • Comey publishes a memoir that exposes what a complete and utter fraud (and moron) Trump is and slashdot highlights only that Comey found encryption to be a moral quagmire. I wish I could say I find this surprising.
  • by hduff ( 570443 ) <hoytduff.gmail@com> on Monday April 16, 2018 @11:58AM (#56446287) Homepage Journal

    Comey and other law enforcement types lacks perspective on this issue. They want an easy way to do their job at the expense of a fundamental right of the people who pay his salary. Police and detective work is made hard by our Constitution and laws, as it should be. Law-abiding citizens should not be treated like criminals to make life easier for people like Comey.

User hostile.

Working...