James B. Comey Stories February 22, 2016

Retired General Michael Hayden, former head of both the NSA and CIA, told USA Today that while he “trends toward the government” on the ‘master key‘ approach to the San Bernardino case, he thinks Apple is right that there should never be a back door to encryption. His remarks were made as Tim Cook called for the government to drop its demands that Apple help the FBI break into an iPhone.

Hayden went so far as to specifically call out FBI Director Jim Comey in his comments.

In this specific case, I’m trending toward the government, but I’ve got to tell you in general I oppose the government’s effort, personified by FBI Director Jim Comey. Jim would like a back door available to American law enforcement in all devices globally. And, frankly, I think on balance that actually harms American safety and security, even though it might make Jim’s job a bit easier in some specific circumstances.

Comey has repeatedly attacked Apple’s use of strong encryption on iPhones …

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James B. Comey Stories February 17, 2016

I laid out the three reasons I believe Apple is right to stand firm on encryption back in November. The tl;dr version was in the summary.

So weakening encryption would mean sacrificing core principles of civilized societies in the name of security. It would provide not just our own government but foreign governments and criminals with access to our data. And it would do absolutely nothing to prevent terrorists from communicating in secret.

Gratifyingly, 93% of you agreed with me. But much as you and I both think Apple is right, the company now appears to be in an extremely tricky position. Not only does it have a court order instructing it to assist the FBI in breaking into one specific phone, but it appears very likely that it has the technical ability to comply with this order.

Tim Cook currently remains defiant, but how likely is it that Apple could succeed in fighting the order … ?

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James B. Comey Stories October 12, 2015

A New York federal judge has indicated that he is likely to refuse a government request to compel Apple to unlock a customer’s iPhone, but will first ask Apple to explain why decrypting iPhones would be “unduly burdensome.” The iPhone concerned is apparently not running iOS 8 or 9, and so Apple would have the technical ability to decrypt it.

The Washington Post reports that Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York is an activist judge who is believed to be attempting to open up public debate on the issue of privacy versus law enforcement …  expand full story

James B. Comey Stories September 8, 2015

DOJ and FBI officials say Apple & other tech companies ‘winning PR battle’ over data privacy

Some law enforcement officials are frustrated that Apple and other tech companies appear to be winning the PR battle over data privacy, reports the NYT.

Some Justice and F.B.I. officials have been frustrated that the White House has not moved more quickly or been more outspoken in the public relations fight that the tech companies appear to be winning, the law enforcement officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private conversations.

The comments came in the wake of a DOJ drugs and guns investigation where the agency obtained a court order to obtain iMessages between suspects, and Apple responded that it was unable to comply as end-to-end encryption is used, meaning that Apple has no way to decrypt the communications. Tim Cook said of iMessages a year ago that the content is “encrypted and we don’t have the key.”

There has long been tension between Apple and law enforcement agencies over encryption, Apple arguing that its customers right to privacy outweighs the right of law enforcement agencies to intercept communications – a stance strengthened by the Snowden revelations into large-scale electronic surveillance by governments. Law enforcement officials have become increasingly strident and hyperbolic in their statements on the subject.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder said last year that less stringent protection would still “adequately protect personal privacy,” FBI Director James Comey claimed that Apple’s encryption was “putting people beyond the law,” the DOJ suggested that iPhone encryption could eventually lead to the death of a child” and Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr, said that the iPhone would be “the terrorists’ communication device of choice.”

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