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Is The FBI Dumb, Evil, Or Just Incompetent? | TechCrunch

Stashed in: Privacy does not exist.

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Your government is worried. The world is “going dark.” Once upon a time, telephones were the only way to talk to someone far away, and the authorities could wiretap any phone they wanted. Nowadays, though, suspects might be communicating via Facebook, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, Viber. And so, inevitably: “Today, if you’re a tech company that’s created a new and popular way to communicate, it’s only a matter of time before the FBI shows up with a court order to read or hear some conversation.”

But some of those providers have no interest in spying on their users. The FBI is not amused. “A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Face­book and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur,” according to the Washington Post, by fining them increasing sums until they build government-accessible back doors into their systems.

Which invites the titular question of this post.

The FBI may be looking back with dewy-eyed nostalgia on the phone wiretaps of yore, but I think we can all agree that those would have been ridiculously ineffective if anyone with anything to hide had been able to easily acquire and attach tiny devices that made wiretapping impossible. That’s exactly the case today: anyone even remotely au fait with technology can securely encrypt their digital communications themselves, via eg RedPhone.

So the FBI would only be able to wiretap suspects who are either too dumb to use encryption — in which case they ought to be easy enough to catch without wiretaps — or who think they have nothing to hide. Meanwhile, they’d be setting a terrible precedent for other, more draconian governments.Critics say “We’ll look a lot more like China than America after this” … but the Obama administration, which not coincidentally appears to hate whistleblowers above all else, still seems poised to support this initiative.

Complicated issue.

We all want security but not if it means giving up freedom and liberty and rights to privacy.

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