FBI Chief Says Texas Gunman Used Encryption to Text Overseas Terrorist

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After terrorist attacks, the debate over encryption gets new life.

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and California, there is growing sentiment among security hawks on Capitol Hill for legislation to ensure that law enforcement has access to encrypted communication.

Comey, said Wednesday that investigators could not read more than 100 text messages exchanged by one of the attackers in a shooting this year in Garland, Tex., because they were encrypted, adding fuel to law enforcement agencies’ contention that they need a way to circumvent commercially available encryption technology. The Braves drove us to distraction and brought “termination” to Frank Wren, the general manager who built them, by swinging big, missing big and spitting the bit in September. The Iowa Republican repeated the argument that the decision about whether Clinton broke any laws by using the private setup for official business will be made by a fellow Democrat in the Justice Department. “No matter what the FBI finds, a political appointee of the Justice Department will ultimately make the decision of whether or not to prosecute,” he said.

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) became the latest senior lawmaker to call for such legislation. “If there is a conspiracy going on” among terrorist suspects using encrypted devices, “that encryption ought to be able to be pierced,” said Feinstein, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey replied, “As I’ve said many times, we don’t give a rip about politics. … We care about finding out what is true and doing that in a competent, honest and independent way. And it’s troubled me, and I know others, when some people have attempted to disparage or otherwise predict the outcome of the ongoing FBI investigation.” (RELATED: FBI Director Admits — ‘Encryption Is Getting In The Way’ Of Monitoring Terrorists) “I know the president himself said that we don’t get an impression that there was purposefully efforts to hide something or to squirrel away information,” Cornyn explained. “Does the President get briefings on ongoing investigations by the FBI like this?” In an interview on “60 Minutes” in October, Obama suggested, “I don’t think it posed a national security problem.” (RELATED: Obama Says Hillary’s Email Use Was A ‘Mistake’)

John McCain (R-Ariz.), who said after the Paris attacks that the status quo was “unacceptable.” He said that the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he chairs, would hold hearings and “have legislation.” It is not clear yet whether the San Bernardino, Calif., couple, who fatally shot 14 people, used encrypted communication or devices; they did own iPhones, officials said. Comey, a longtime critic of the technologies that he contends are creating a “going dark” problem for law enforcement agencies, had cited a specific example of a terrorist using encrypted communications.

He said the move to encryption that firms cannot unlock, even if served with a warrant, was primarily a “business” decision and was not driven by a desire to improve device security. “I actually think it’s not a technical issue,” Comey said. “There are plenty of companies today that provide secure services to their customers and still comply with court orders. In the Texas shootings, two men armed with rifles and wearing armor opened fire near an exhibit that was showing cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad. Comey argued in his testimony on Wednesday that the technology companies’ defense of “end-to-end encryption,” in which only specific users of a phone or computer hold the keys, was rooted in business decisions. “It’s a business model question,” he said. “Good people have made a decision to design products and sell products where court orders are ineffective. Comey, whose 10-year term extends well beyond President Obama’s, the recent attacks have provided renewed arguments to pressure technology companies. Bratton, New York City’s police commissioner, have faulted the encryption used by Apple, Facebook and Google for thwarting terrorism investigations.

There is also no evidence that the married couple who waged the attack in a San Bernardino office building last week communicated digitally about the attacks. In a technology tutorial produced by the Islamic State militant group that was circulated last January, the group offered its members a guide to encrypted messaging apps, pointing out which it believed were “safest,” “safe,” “moderately safe” and “unsafe,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorists’ communications. In the past, Apple could unlock communications under such circumstances, but the current scheme forces law enforcement agents to go directly to their target to read their communications.

But even if Apple rolled back its technology — which Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, has emphatically insisted will never happen — it is unclear whether it would make it easier for American law enforcement to track terrorists.

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