IT-savvy US congressmen to Feds: End your crypto-backdoor crusade

Bad actors will like bad ideas


US Congress' only Comp. Sci. majors are trying to convince the head of the FBI that there's no such thing as a safe backdoor.

In yet another attempt to instil good sense in the Feds, Congressmen Will Hurd and Ted Lieu have written an open letter to FBI director James Comey trying to spike the latter's enthusiasm for encryption-busting for law enforcement.

Last September, Comey fired the first shots in the new crypto-war, complaining that crypto stopped the FBI from collaring crims. With that encouragement from the US, UK prime minister David Cameron joined the ban-crypto camp.

That's led the tech sector to fight back against a revival of the 1990s' “crypto wars”.

Hurd's and Lieu's letter says that imposing weak crypto on tech companies and their customers goes beyond asking companies for help fighting crime: “There is a difference between private companies assisting law enforcement and the government compelling companies to weaken their products to make investigations easier”.

Second, they make the hard-to-argue point that any backdoor “can be exploited by bad actors such as criminals, spies and those engaged in economic espionage.”

They continue that “computer code and encryption algorithms are neutral and have no idea if they are being accessed by an FBI agent, a terrorist or a hacker”, something that hasn't been addressed in oversight hearings on the issue.

Special access for governments would also be abused by despots, sorry, by “governments with fewer civil liberties protections”.

And a backdoor in (say) Mountain View's or Cuptertino's crypto will simply drive ne'er-do-wells to use products from outside the US, they write.

“As computer science majors and members of the IT Subcommittee, we strongly urge the FBI to find alternative ways of addressing the challenges posed by new technologies”, they conclude. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Want to buy your own piece of the Pi? No 'urgency' says Upton of the listing rumours

    A British success story... what happens next?

    Industry talk is continuing to circulate regarding a possible public listing of the UK makers of the diminutive Raspberry Pi computer.

    Over the weekend, The Telegraph reported that a spring listing could be in the offing, with a valuation of more than £370m.

    Pi boss, Eben Upton, described the newspaper's article as "interesting" in an email to The Register today, before repeating that "we're always looking at ways to fund the future growth of the business, but the $45m we raised in September has taken some of the urgency out of that."

    Continue reading
  • JetBrains embraces remote development with new IDE for multiple programming languages

    Security, collaboration, flexible working: Fleet does it all apparently

    JetBrains has introduced remote development for its range of IDEs as well as previewing a new IDE called Fleet, which will form the basis for fresh tools covering all major programming languages.

    JetBrains has a core IDE used for the IntelliJ IDEA Java tool as well other IDEs such as Android Studio, the official programming environment for Google Android, PyCharm for Python, Rider for C#, and so on. The IDEs run on the Java virtual machine (JVM) and are coded using Java and Kotlin, the latter being primarily a JVM language but with options for compiling to JavaScript or native code.

    Fleet is "both an IDE and a lightweight code editor," said the company in its product announcement, suggesting perhaps that it is feeling some pressure from the success of Microsoft's Visual Studio Code, which is an extensible code editor. Initial language support is for Java, Kotlin, Go, Python, Rust, and JavaScript, though other languages such as C# will follow. Again like VS Code, Fleet can run on a local machine or on a remote server. The new IDE uses technology developed for IntelliJ such as its code-processing engine for features such as code completion and refactoring.

    Continue reading
  • Nextcloud and cloud chums fire off competition complaint to the EU over Microsoft bundling OneDrive with Windows

    No, it isn't the limited levels of storage that have irked European businesses

    EU software and cloud businesses have joined Nextcloud in filing a complaint with the European Commission regarding Microsoft's alleged anti-competitive behaviour over the bundling of its OS with online services.

    The issue is OneDrive and Microsoft's habit of packaging it (and other services such as Teams) with Windows software.

    Nextcloud sells on-premises collaboration platforms that it claims combine "the convenience and ease of use of consumer-grade solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive with the security, privacy and control business needs." Microsoft's cloud storage system, OneDrive, is conspicuous by its absence.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021