Privacy and the Government

This time, as represented by the FBI.

The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation urged Silicon Valley Thursday to reverse course on encrypting phone data, suggesting the pendulum on privacy issues “has swung too far” against the government in the wake of revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

No. It hasn’t swung far enough, as too many judges’ attitudes illustrate.

FBI Director James Comey added,

We also need a legislative and regulatory fix.

Again, no. We have too many laws on the books already; the government, including the FBI, aren’t capable of enforcing those existing. And this elides the premise that the government has made illegal and has outright criminalized too many things. Beyond that, we have far too many regulations already, every one of them written by Federal agencies and Cabinet departments that are only tenuously accountable to us citizens.


Mr. Comey’s speech [at the Brookings Institution] was another indication of how far apart the two sides remain. He denied they wanted a back door, saying that using a warrant to gather evidence is the equivalent of walking through the front door.

Say that’s true about the current government. There’s no guarantee any future administration would be as restrained with those “legislative and regulatory” fixes. Just look at the out of control regulation writing that’s already been going on for an example of how a tool, originally restrained in its use, gets more and more abusively used over time.

Moreover, beyond individual security and privacy, there’s this national security question, raised by the ACLU’s Christopher Soghoian:

…weakening the security of systems to enable law enforcement access also makes them far more vulnerable to compromise by foreign governments and hackers. If anything, we should be doing more to secure our data.

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  1. Pingback: The Government and Privacy | A Plebe's Site

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